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Articles Tagged: printing

Corporate Sponsor Spotlight: Red River Paper

In the digital age, most people view photographs on the screens of their devices. But there is something special about getting that image onto paper and displaying it on your wall, as a card or in a hand-bound book. There are a few choices for good, photo-quality printers, and any review roundup will point you in the right direction. Where the choices explode is in the selection of what paper you’re going to use. The weight, tone, surface and texture all affect how different photos will present themselves in the physical world. There are a dozen companies that sell hundreds of variations of paper. Dallas is fortunate to be the home of a company that offers the highest quality papers at prices that reduce printing budgets for all levels of photographers.

Red River Paper was founded by Richard Clampitt. Richard spent most of his life selling paper to print shops with Clampitt Paper Company. In 1996, he started Red River Paper with medical ultrasound paper. A year later, Drew Hendrix joined and both saw photographs printed on inkjet printers and decided to expand the paper selection to include inkjet photo paper. As inkjet technology has improved over the years, so has paper quality and selection. Red River Paper is now run by Drew Hendrix and carries 25 paper surfaces in various weights and sizes to meet the needs of today’s photographer.

WHAT SETS RRP APART:

Red River Paper manufactures paper by buying large bulk rolls from the top paper mills in the US, Japan, and Europe. They then sheet the paper and cut them down to the sizes they carry or create smaller rolls. RRP also scores all paper in house for their greeting card selection, and they sell everything directly to the customer to keep costs lower for the end user. They offer extensive inkjet printing support with their paper and more online tutorials than any of their competitors. Here is a video about what sets their photo paper apart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H5pGfGlhO4

STAFF FAVORITE PAPERS:

KAYLA (Customer Service) – 75lb. Arctic Polar Luster for landscapes

LESLIE (Marketing) – 68lb. UltraPro Satin for portrait photography and Palo Duro SoftGloss Rag for fine art photography

CINDY (Customer Service) – Both Polar Gloss Metallic and Polar Matte for landscapes and architectural images

DREW (President) – Palo Duro SoftGloss Rag for black and white landscapes as well as artistic infrared work

NEW TO PRINTING?

Red River Paper’s biggest piece of advice is to call them at 888-248-8774 if you are trying to figure out which inkjet printer to buy. They will help you find an ideal printer for your budget, paper preference, and space. They will also help you choose a paper or recommend a sample kit that will meet your needs.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Not sure which paper would be best for your landscape shot versus a traditional portrait? Shop paper by photography subject.

Cost per Print Analysis: What’s the true cost of inkjet printing.

Printer Reviews: Founded in 1997, Red River Paper has “been there and done that” in terms of digital image capture, editing, and output.

RRP equivalent paper chart

Digital Photos to Printed Photo Books

Past DCP staff member KC Frost shares with us her love of creating photo books:

I have been interested in cameras for as long as I can remember, probably because my dad always had his camera around his neck on most occasions while I was growing up. I remember dropping off the film with him at the local photo store and the anticipation of picking it up 24 hours later. Fast forward 20 years and I now have a digital camera of my own that accompanies me on my trips and on special occasions. I would call myself an amateur photographer who loves to capture memories.

When I am spending time with friends and want to share photos from a trip, it kills me to open my iPhone and search for the photos. Let’s be honest, it’s hard not to open the notification at the top of the screen while searching for the perfect photo that you think you remember taking sometime between January and May of 2013. Plus, it takes away time with loved ones! Besides, that little iPhone screen does not do justice to the large elephant who charged our safari vehicle on a recent trip to South Africa. I found myself overwhelmed with the 25,000 photos (and counting) available at my fingers tips, so I started making photo books that we keep on our coffee table and on our bookshelf.

Creating my first digital photo book for print reminded me of the mid-90s when scrap-booking was all the rage. Now the process is better because I like for things to be straight and pictures perfectly aligned which can be accomplished quickly on a computer.

A few tips for your photo book:

When I am on the plane home from a trip, I start going through the photos and picking my favorites. If a picture sparks a memory or brings a smile to my face, I put it in the ‘to be considered’ folder. After a few days of being home, I revisit the folder and start to be selective of the best photos that capture my storyline and what I want to remember.

Captions are your friend! While events are fresh in your mind, write captions that will jog your memory years down the road. In my first couple of photo books, I thought I would remember the details — the name of an island we were on and the name of the restaurant — but it was difficult without making notes soon after the experience. Looking back a few years later, I wish I had written down those details.

Somewhere in the Caribbean…. I wish I had captioned this.

Have fun with it! With so many pre-made formats available, you can drag and drop your photos and find the right combination to show off your adventure.

Let your personality show when you are in front of the camera. Those are the pictures that will spark the most memories when you look back on them.

You can use online services like Shutterfly, Snapfish or Blurb. Lightroom has a Blurb module built in which makes layout easy and lets you edit the photos once they are placed. Sometimes two photos that look good separately don’t look so good next to each other. Being able to click over to the Develop module and make adjustments is fast and easy. I personally love creating small series of photos. Maybe it’s of my husband and I trying to pull off the perfect jumping photo or a lion cub yawning in sequence. I also love having my strongest photos stand alone and make a statement. Lay-flat books are great for this exact reason!

The feeling of flipping through the pages of your finished book is rewarding and powerful. Call me old-fashioned but the element of having your photos being printed on the pages of a book bring the story to life which can’t be replicated the same way on a digital screen. Printing images is a part of digital photography that many people have abandoned and need to reconsider. The pages of a photo book make the experience real for family and friends to enjoy. Photo books also make the best gifts for family and friends. Take as little as 10-15 pictures from an experience you shared with someone and create a book to give as a gift. It is something that they will treasure for years to come.

Plano Camera Club Print Competition

Occasionally I get asked to judge photo contests for one of the camera clubs in the area. This time it’s for the Plano Camera Club and the category is “open”, meaning any subject matter can be submitted. This is also a print competition so instead of judging images on a screen I get to handle actual photograph, which is always fun. It’s really interesting to look at the range of photos made by beginners through “master” level photographers. The photo is from the studio where I had the prints laid out for review.

Judging-Plano-Camera-Club-Dallas-Center-for-Photography

Prepping for the Panoramas class

Online test reveals how well you see color

I came across this test on the X-Rite site a few months ago when I was researching one of their monitor calibration systems. It’s an informative and fun test that will show exactly where you might have problems with color perception. I’ve had enough arguments disagreements with friends and family over the years about certain blue/green colors to guess that I had a very common male-linked weakness in that area. Sure enough the test showed me right where it was. Just rearrange the colors till they look like they are in order. Give it a try at the X-rite Online Color Challenge.

x-rite-color-test-Dallas-Center-for-Photography

Really big prints

I’ve had an Epson 7600 for a few years and always thought of it as a big machine with an appetite for ink and a producer of impressive big prints. Up to 24″ wide by any length. Boy, have I had to recalibrate that thinking! I just got through shooting a job for some interior banners that will hang at the newly remodeled downtown Dallas YMCA. They are being printed on an HP Scitex XL Jet which prints up to 5 meters wide (196″). The images will be full bleed and the size is 9ft x 18ft. I shot using a rented Nikon D3x. I’ve written about that experience here. The resolution of the D3x is roughly 4000×6000 pixels. The long dimension of the banners of 18ft, or 216 inches. Dividing the resolution (6000 pixels) by the printed dimension (216 inches) will give us the maximum pixels per inch that I would get on the print: 6000/216=28. If I crop the image I would have fewer pixels. Is 28 ppi (pixels per inch) enough? Absolutely, because of viewing distance.

When I do my own exhibition prints, I have found that anything over about 150ppi is seldom seen in the print itself. If the image is a technical or highly detailed shot involving product with sharp edges, a super high-res multi image panorama or overlayed vector art or text, then going to 200 or 250 ppi can make a difference. Those images are hung on a wall and viewed from a few feet away – unless you’re like me and always lean in, tip your head, and look to see what kind of detail there is in the print. Its sometimes an unkind thing to do, but I’m always interested in printing technique and it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the image as art.

These large banners will hang overhead and the minimum viewing distance from a 6′ person’s eyeballs to the bottom of the banner will be 7ft, assuming they are looking straight up. To the center of the banner would be about 11ft. More realistically, the viewing distance as people move around the room will be well over 15ft. If 150ppi is great quality at a viewing distance of 3 feet, then what happens at about 15ft? Subjectively, I can tell you that they look great. I’ve seen the prints at Color Place, who is doing the printing, and was pleased with how crisp they look from a few feet away. The numbers support this. There is a simple, linear relationship here. A viewing distance of 3ft is 1/5th of a viewing distance of 15ft. Take our target high quality image of 150ppi and divide by 5 and you get, yup, 30ppi. There is a good article on this topic here.

The ink droplets from the HP Scitex XL Jet printer that Color Place uses are pretty big. Well, big in the ink jet world. They are specified at 80 picoliters. By comparison, my Epson 7600 has a minimum drop size of 4 picoliters. That’s billionths of a liter, which is small! What that means is that the image from the XL Jet, when viewed closely, has quite a bit of dithering, a kind of noise pattern that results from the low printing resolution. That is actually a very good thing in terms of percieved sharpness. At a distance, that noise actually sharpens the image. Try it yourself. Print a photo, then add noise to it in your image editor. Put them side by side and step back. Often the noisier image will appear sharper.

I visited Color Place when they were printing and finishing the banners. The printer is really big, and so is the head assembly. I complain about buying 220ml cartridges for my printer. These guys buy ink by the gallon. When the print technician saw me photographing the bottles on the floor he said “Oh, that’s just junk ink. We can’t use that. Here’s the new stuff” and then showed me the cabinet with the new gallon jugs.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is how inexpensive this kind of banner printing has gotten. It costs me about $2/square foot in ink and paper to print on my Epson printer. You can get banners made for around $3 to $4 per sq. ft. You aren’t going to hang them in a gallery, but it is a blast seeing images this size.