The Process (continued)…

Equipment and Recording Medium (continued)…
I have photographed with various formats, mostly with Mamiya medium format and Nikon 35mm cameras. While the larger formats render fine detail particularly well, I personally have often preferred the smaller 35mm format for its greater flexibility and spontaneity in capturing fleeting moments and truly inspiring images.

In the Field I’m a firm believer in “getting it right in camera” or “garbage in, garbage out”! I don’t believe in being sloppy in the field only to spend a lot of time on the computer fixing things in Photoshop. That’s the reason that I use a select number of filters in the field to modify the color or intensity of light when necessary. Because film and digital media alike have a much narrower exposure latitude than human vision, neutral graduated filters placed in front of a lens greatly lower the contrast in morning as well as evening landscapes. A color polarizing filter is also very useful for increasing contrast between clouds and blue sky, in removing glare from foliage or water, as well as helping reduce the amount of light reaching the film or sensor when trying to use slow shutter speeds in bright daylight. Neutral density filters are also useful for reducing the amount of light to obtain silky water effects. With film, the “cool, bluish color” found in images taken in shade or under overcast skies, can be “warmed up” with a warming filter; with a digital file, this can now be done just as easily when processing the file. It goes without saying that a sturdy tripod is as necessary in making technically excellent images as the camera and lens are.

It is imperative to understand that cameras and recording mediums are simply the tools we use to make photographs. It’s the final image that matters, not the equipment or process used to make the image. The art comes from the artist and not from the equipment. Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci chose to paint in oils rather than egg tempera while Canadian artist Toni Onley chose watercolors as his medium of choice. American photographer Brett Weston worked in large format black and white film while Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson felt most comfortable with 35mm slide film.

I often remember a comment that Ernst Haas made to a small group of photographers during a workshop in Edmonton in 1983. He was talking about “color” when he said: “Every one has his or her own color key.” Similarly, each photographer makes a personal choice regarding his or her own preference for the medium or process and, ultimately, the viewer will select the photographer’ s vision that is most eloquently captured in an image and translated into a fine print.

Digital Technology and the Computer Over the years, the recording medium changed from glass plates, to film, to digital sensors. Each medium exhibited advantages and disadvantages over the other media. Plates had long disappeared by the time I began to practice photography in 1976. Up until a few years ago, I photographed with negative and transparency (slide) films in both black & white and color. I particularly enjoyed working with color slide film and loved the vibrance of Fuji’s Velvia and Kodak’s E100 VS films. I converted to digital cameras in 2004. There was a steep learning curve involved and I wanted to be well versed in digital technology before making a complete conversion.

Digital technology, while rather expensive and constantly changing, has provided some serious benefits over film technology, not the least of which is its immediacy in providing a captured image. Even more importantly however, the digital sensor has allowed photographers to capture an even greater exposure latitude than slide film ever could, resulting in better contrast control, enhanced ability to render fine detail, and better tonal gradations, particularly when shooting in the RAW mode. The RAW capture or “digital negative,” allows the competent photographer the ability to process an image that more closely matches his or her vision at the time of capture. Digital imaging software such as Photoshop, Lightroom and the other  RAW converters (personally I use Nikon’s Capture NX2), are as essential in processing these RAW digital files today as the photo labs that used to process transparency film just a few years ago. In the hands of knowledgeable practitioners however, the ability to enhance a digital capture to match the photographer’s vision is truly amazing.

When I work on an image in Photoshop I seldom, if ever, add elements like moons, trees, skies, etc. If on occasion I might add an element, rest assured that I most certainly would indicate that the image was a “composite.” Occasionally, I  might remove a distracting element like a blade of grass, etc. RAW camera captures are, for all intents and purposes, no different than an exposed but unprocessed piece of film. Digital imaging software like Photoshop is required to process RAW files which are normally very “flat.” While the RAW files contains much digital information, they require a skilled practitioner to tweak the files by making adjustments (when required) to the exposure, contrast, saturation, etc., to bring forth the photographer’s vision. This is the same type of adjustment made by darkroom technicians when processing film and developing prints. When transparencies are scanned, similar adjustments may be made on the resulting digital file.

The Print Process An image may look very appealing on a computer monitor but really comes to life in print form. Processing a digital file to look exquisite on a computer screen is one thing but transferring that image onto a sheet of printed paper is quite another. It involves additional skills and considerations regarding contrast, color fidelity, saturation, and sharpness as the image is printed on different substrates. While I am very competent at processing digital files, I leave the printing of my images to expert craftsmen who understand the process intimately. Chris Insull (from Photo Central) and I have been worked very closely in fine-tuning our approach and printing process, working out glitches of the equipment, and learning about the attributes and characteristics of the various products involved—printers, inks, laminates, mounting boards, mounting tissues, papers, frames, etc. We have tested papers extensively and Chris has developed a great sense for what I like in a print. In short, Chris is a fine printer!

On specific occasions, a Client may request a Chromira or metallic print and we can accommodate those special requests.

Archival Quality To achieve the best print permanence possible, we use only archival materials.

The Print Surface We offer various printing surfaces or substrates, depending on the Client’s choice. Based on our experience however, we will recommend a particular surface.

Our first choice for printing are the Hahnemühle Fine Art papers, including FineArt Pearl, German Etching, William Turner and Canvas Artist. Artists have been working traditionally with these papers for more than 420 years.

Fine Art Pearl: Bright white, 100% α-cellulose, pearl-finish paper enabling impressive contrasts and pictorial depth in black and white or color photography. No “whiteners” used and guaranteed archival standards.

German Etching: A white, 100% α-cellulose, heavyweight etching board with a velvety smooth, fine surface texture. Guaranteed archival standards.

William Turner: A white mat, 100% cotton, watercolor textured, mould-made paper in both look and feel. Guaranteed archival standards.

Canvas Artist: Natural white, poly-cotton with an appreciable linen structure. Guaranteed archival standards.

Depending upon the image, we can also print on Chromira Digital Archival papers. These are true photographic prints, exposed with LED light. These papers produce long-lasting, vivid, breathtaking prints with immaculate fidelity, resolution, and sharpness.

In addition, for a unique metallic/pearlescent look, we offer Kodak Endura Metallic Papers which feature an image brilliance unlike any other output media. Detail is sharp, with saturated colors.

Other printing surfaces may be offered from time to time but only once appropriate testing has been performed.

The Printer Our Giclée prints are printed on a Canon iPF8100 professional, large format Inkjet printer. It uses a 12-colour pigment LUCIA ink system offering excellent colour fastness and stability with a remarkably wide color gamut. LUCIA inks create a broad color pallet and delivers exceptional, vibrant prints. The monochrome photo mode produces stable, neutral, high-quality monochrome images with smooth gradation.

Mounting, Matting and Framing We understand that most clients prefer to finish their prints locally as other décor factors come into play. However, should you decide that you would like us to take care of that for you, we would be more than happy to provide matting and framing services. When we take on the role of finishing, all prints are professionally mounted and over-matted using Museum Grade acid-free archival mat board. One or two mat boards might be selected based on the particular image.

We only recommend mounting fine art prints on foam core, Sintra board, Gator board, or Mightycore board. All but the foam core require a special, archival mounting tissue to prevent migration of any potential chemical from the mounting substrate to the archival print. Canvas prints are wrapped on stretcher frames.

Frames come in a variety of profiles (styles) available in different colors, sizes, and type of material, mostly wood or metal. Glass is available in regular and non-glare versions. We proceed with matting and framing only once all the details have been confirmed by the Client.

Shipping Your fine art print will be shipped rolled in a heavy duty tube which is very safe. If a number of prints are being shipped together, we will build a sturdy wooden crate for shipping. Please allow 1 to 2 weeks for shipping once the image has been printed. We will confirm shipping charges with the Client before shipping.

Handling Prints Prints are very fragile, particularly in larger sizes. Handle prints very carefully and only with clean, white cotton gloves to avoid transferring any dirt or acid onto the print. Prints crease easily when handled, so always hold a print by opposite corners to avoid damage. We recommend laminating a print to reduce the risk of print damage.

Once your fine art print has been professionally framed, we suggest the following display guidelines to protect your investment. Perhaps the most important concern for your art work is the location it will hang. Avoid hanging any work of art where it is exposed to sunlight as direct sun is the most detrimental agent for art works. Glass protects the art from damaging ultraviolet light as well as from other elements in the environment. When cleaning glass, never spray cleaner directly onto the glass as it could run underneath the frame and contaminate underlying materials, including the print. Always spray a cloth first and then carefully wipe the glass clean. A stable, cool, dry environment is the best place to display your fine art print. Beyond this, I would advise you to read up on Caring for Your Fine Art Print.