Canon Headquarters Exhibit Preparation and Showroom Video (Podcast 615)

Canon Headquarters Exhibit Preparation and Showroom Video (Podcast 615)

After three months of running at full speed, last week I needed a rest. Not being one for just sitting down and doing nothing, I changed gears and gave myself a week to make some background music for a video I’d put together to show some of the large format prints emerging from the printer, the work involved in setting up the gallery space, and a sneak peek at Canon’s exclusive showroom and museum space in their headquarters.

This week’s audio podcast is primarily to tell you that the video is ready to watch and provide a gallery of the 10 images that I displayed in the exhibit at Canon’s Headquarters so that you can see them in detail. I’ll also go on to explain more about my backstory, and why creating the music was my way of relaxing, just in case you are interested, so I guess there are almost two podcasts in one this week, but only the video is really photography related.

So, first here is the video, which I hope you enjoy. It’s in 4K but shot with my iPhone 7 and for most of the footage was using a DJI Osmo Mobile to help keep the camera steady. I actually found that the DJI software camera was a little bit jerky at times, and had some fun with the white balance in the showroom too, but hopefully, that won’t spoil it too much for you.

Note that I discussed many of the aspects of this project including my choice of media, some printing tips, and other information is last week’s episode if you are interested. Please also read on below for the gallery of images and backstory on the music project.

Gallery of Ten Exhibit Pieces

Here are the ten images that I displayed. Click on a thumbnail to open the lightbox viewer.

The Music Backstory

To give you a bit of backstory on why the music is my way to relax; eight years ago when I incorporated my company, and photography became my day-job, I felt, to a degree, that I needed a hobby again. Of course, photography is still an amazing form of stress relief for me. But it’s not always possible to go out and shoot, and that’s where music comes in.

I’ve been around music as long as photography when I think about it. I had guitars as a kid, and played the sax and sang in a blues band when I was 18 or 19, and since played the didgeridoo for a while, as well as the harmonica. I just love tinkering with music, so when I found myself with a little downtime as I recovered from my brain tumor surgery in 2011 I decided to buy an electric piano, and continue to pursue my secondary passion of making music. I still don’t play the piano well, but I can play enough to string together chords that I find pleasing and enough to punch those into my computer. On and off since 2011, when I get a little spare time, I often either study music theory, or I’ll practice the keyboard or drum pads, and this has become my way of relaxing in the evenings or when getting out with the camera isn’t practical.

With the Hokkaido tours, then working on the Canon Headquarters exhibit while catching up on business kept me incredibly busy from the beginning of January until the first week in April, and I really needed a break. You will have noticed that I have missed my release schedule a few times over the last couple of weeks, and this is part of the reason, but the reason for missing last week, is because I simply decided to cut myself some slack, and just make some music.

For those of you that actually make music, my results are probably laughable, but it felt great to just get my urgent communication out of the way each day, then just sit in front of my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and mess around. I started by very geekily recording the sound of my Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 printer printing, and created a drum set of various samples of the printer sounds to use for the drum track. Then worked on a few different chord sequences and built out the other parts, gradually building up my eight-minute background music for the video that I had edited down in a few hours a week ago.

Martin's Digital Audio Workstation
Martin’s Digital Audio Workstation

As I say, the music isn’t brilliant, but it served its function, and now, a week on, I’m totally refreshed and happy to have spent the time to create this. I actually should spend a few more days on it to really polish it up, but this week I have a bunch of other stuff to do, and can’t afford to spend that time, so you’ll have to suffer the three quarter complete version, or turn your speakers down as you enjoy the main feature for this week, which is the resulting video.

Music Software Credits

In case anyone is interested, the DAW software I use is Ableton Live 10, and for the background music for this video, I used the native Ableton Live drum rack and sampler features to create 16 drum samples based on the sounds of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000. I dare say this is probably the only digital drum rack in the world based exclusively on the sound of a printer. 🙂

In addition, I used the following plugins, in order of appearance:

I won’t bore you with more details on the actual production, but I thought you might be interested in my reasoning, and again, this doesn’t mean that photography is any less important to me. I’m not sure it would be a very interesting life if we were restricted to just one interest, and I’m sure many of you have other ways to relax outside of your photography. In fact, just for fun, how about leaving a comment below and letting me know what you do to relax, whether photography is your day-job or not. I’d love to hear from you.

Show Notes

You can view the video on Vimeo here.

Music by Martin Bailey


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Rolling Fine Art Prints for Shipping (Podcast 425)

Rolling Fine Art Prints for Shipping (Podcast 425)

I’m often asked how I package fine art prints for shipping to customers, so I’ve prepared a short video showing the process, and we’re going to expand on that a little today in today’s Podcast. I’m also going to be giving away the print that you’ll see in the video, so look out for details on that at the end of the episode!

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Whether you sell your own prints, or simply want to send something to a friend or relative, every so often, we have to put one of our prized photographs into the postal system. Having shipped hundreds of prints to all corners of the globe, I’ve come up with a pretty good system for rolling and packaging my fine art prints, which I’m going to share with you today.

The video (below) is pretty much self explanatory, but I’m going to walk you through in more detail as well, to ensure that everything is clear. Here to start with is a photograph of the tubes that I use. I buy these from a shop in Tokyo called Sekaido, but this won’t of course be of much use to the majority of you that don’t live in Japan. The thing to note when you try to source a shipping tube, is to ensure that they are sturdy enough to not be crushed in transit. I had a few issues when I first started shipping prints, but since finding these particular tubes, I’ve not had an issue.

Shipping Tubes

Shipping Tubes

The tubes I use are 70mm in diameter, and they need to be pretty wide, so that you don’t have to roll the print too tightly. This is highly recommended if you are using heavy fine art paper, that can kink when you roll it if you try to get it too narrow. The smallest you’ll want to go it probably a 2 inch diameter tube like the one’s I see on Amazon, but ideally, a little wider is better. 70mm is two and three quarters of an inch.

The short tube here is the one you’ll see in the video. This is 505 mm, the medium one is 655 mm and the tall tube is 1,020 mm. That makes them 19.88, 25.78 and 40.15 inches respectively. The plastic caps on each end of the tube actually extend into the tube by about 10mm each end, which is about just over 3/4 of an inch in total, so the short tube is perfect for 13 x 19 inch prints, the medium tube is good for 24 inch wide prints, and the longest tubes is good for longer prints up to 39 inches. I can’t print wider than 24 inches with my printer, but sometimes I like to roll the print lengthways, as this is better for really wide prints because you don’t want to be rolling them too tight.

I always wear cotton gloves when handing prints, to stop any oil in my hands from getting on them and generally help to prevent me from marking them. It’s important to note too that if you brush the face of a matte print you can easily mark it, even with gloves on, so you basically treat that as a no-touch area.

Before I roll the print, I place a piece of facing paper over the printed area, to protect it. For this I actually use Canon Coated Paper that is available in 24 inch rolls for my printer so it is large enough to use for any print size that I can create at home. For 13 x 19″ prints I actually use sheet A3 paper which is large enough to cover the printed area.

I roll the print with the printed area facing upwards. This not only protects the printed area better, it also rolls the paper the opposite way to it’s natural roll, so it essentially de-curls the paper after being given time to lay flat when opened at the customer end. If the print needs to be de-curled again, I generally suggest people roll it around the tube using the facing paper to protect the face of the print again. These instructions are included in the Certificate of Authenticity that I also include with the print. I also include an Archival Quality Certificate from Breathing Color when I’m shipping an archival certified print such as Pura Smooth, which you’ll see in the video.

Once I have the print rolled, I wrap a piece of paper around with the words “Tear this paper away to unroll your print” printed on it. I actually print this along the entire page on A4, so that the customer doesn’t have to turn the rolled print around to see what they need to do. I also print the MBP Logo alternatively with the line of text, which is partly just marketing, but also to ensure that the paper catches the customers eye.

I actually apply two pieces of tape to this sheet of paper before I roll the print, so that I can just feed it in as you see in the video. Trying to roll this around and tape it without doing this can cause you to lose your grip on the rolled print, and it starts to open up and sometimes needs to be rolled again, and I like to avoid that.

You have to roll the print smaller than the tube of course, and if you are wondering why I even bother to apply the last piece of paper to the outside of the rolled print, it’s to stop it from opening up inside the tube. If you simply roll and insert the print into the tube then let it unroll to fill the tube it becomes very difficult to get out. You essentially force the customer to pinch at the end of the print in the tube, possibly creasing the edges, and then they have to tug it out of the tube. With the paper stopping it from unrolling, the print can be easily slid out once a tube end cap is removed.

Some prints fit perfectly into the tubes, and some have a little play. If there is much play between the ends of the print and the tube caps I make a little padded bung by rolling strips of bubble wrap and then taping them to hold it all together, and place one of these at one or both ends of the tube. A few millimeters of play is fine, but if the print can travel far inside the tube it will bang against the plastic cap potentially damaging it, so I like to prevent this.

Bubble Wrap Bung

Bubble Wrap Bung

I tape the ends caps on to the tube, applying a good amount of tape around one end, and slightly less on the other. I use really heavy duty packing tape now, so it’s really strong, meaning I can get away with less, and this makes it easier for the customer to cut the tape away to remove the cap and get to their print.

I find that little details like folding the tape back a little to form a tab so that the customer can get to their print more easily all help to improve the overall user experience. It’s like applying the sheet of paper to stop the print from unrolling in the tube. It’s all very well just rolling and feeding the print into the tube, but you have to consider how easy it will be for the customer to then get the print out. I like to try and think my processes through to the very end as much as I can, so that I create as best possible an experience for my customers.

Anyway, here’s the video. It’s only about 6 minutes long, but probably worth a watch to really understand what I’m trying to relay here.

Seljalandsfoss (Falls)

Seljalandsfoss (Falls)

Enter our Giveaway!

Let’s have some fun with the print that I made to shoot this video. I have set up a newsletter subscription list, that you can subscribe to with the button below. On June 23, 2014 I will randomly pick one person from the list, and mail the list to let everyone know that we have a winner. By subscribing, you agree that I can use your name in the announcement, but of course your email will never be disclosed, and that goes for anyone that signs up of course. I’ll also then email the winner for a shipping address, and get the print out to you as soon after the 23rd as possible.

Note that once we have a winner, your email address will then be merged into the MBP General Information Newsletter list, so you will continue to receive the occasional newsletter from us after that date. We hope that you’ll find any information we sending interesting and useful, but if you decide to, you can unsubscribe at any time with the links that you’ll find in every newsletter.

Good luck!

NOTE: The subscription link has been removed, because this particular giveaway has now finished. If you’d like to enter our current giveaway, please check the Fine Art Print Giveaway page.

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Show Notes

Music by UniqueTracks


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Fine Art Print Border Scripts for Print Preparation (Podcast 384)

Fine Art Print Border Scripts for Print Preparation (Podcast 384)

It’s sometimes necessary to create prints on media sizes different to that of the final print. For example, you might need to print an 11 x 17″ print but only have 13 x 19″ media. Or you might use a large format printer and roll media, and don’t want to foot the cost of stocking lots of different sheet sizes.

If you are like me, you also like to print with your photograph offset, with smaller borders at the top than the bottom of the page, and if you print from Lightroom or Photoshop, there is no easy way to layout your print like this, and then print a stroke border and cut guides on the outside of that border, to allow for easy trimming.

To overcome this limitation, I wrote some Photoshop scripts to apply that border and add a small silver stroke line around the frame to help with trimming. The scripts sit in your Edit > Script menu, and can be inserted into Actions or just clicked whenever you need to add a border before printing. The script checks the orientation of your image, and aligns your image with the top or side borders, depending on their aspect ratio, including cropped or panoramic aspect ratios.

The scripts are available now for just $12, and this week’s Podcast is to show you how to use the scripts, as well as show you the problem that I’ve overcome by creating and using these scripts.

Check out the video, but also take a look at the product page which has the latest information on the scripts. For example, I now know that the scripts work on both Mac and Windows without issue, but I’ll continue to build a list of supported Photoshop versions on the product page too, right here:


Here are a few screenshots too, but like I say, the main place to look is the product page…

Printing from Lightroom

To print your images in Lightroom, all you need to do is open the image you saved in Photoshop, and go to the Print Module. Select “Picture Package” under the Layout Style (top right) to print a single image, or Custom Package to print multiple different images.

Under Cells, adjust the size to the paper size that you created, plus 0.5mm or 0.02 inches added to each dimension. For example, an 8.5 x 11″ print would be 216.4 x 279.9mm. If you prefer to work in inches, right click the ruler and select inches if they aren’t already selected. Then just add 0.02 to the size of the page in inches. For example 8.52 x 11.02″. As most papers sizes are specified in inches, this is the easier way to work.

Here’s an example of an 11 x 17″ print laid out on a sheet of 13 x 19″ media. Click on the image to view larger, and note the important settings circled in red. Also note the cut lines are added by Lightroom to aid in trimming.

11 x 17" Print on 13 x 19" Sheet Paper

11 x 17″ Print on 13 x 19″ Sheet Paper

Here’s an example in inches. This is a 16 x 20″ print laid out on 17″ roll media, custom page size 17 x 22″. Click on the image to view larger, and note the important settings circled in red. Also note the cut lines are added by Lightroom to aid in trimming.

16 x 20" on 17 x 22" Media (Roll)

16 x 20″ on 17 x 22″ Media (Roll)

You can save these sizes as one of the six presets available in the Cells panel for easy recall, and you can also save custom layouts as Print Presets, that will also save cell sizes etc. Presets make printing with the Fine Art Borders a breeze.

The image will be printed with a 0.25mm stroke line around the border, added by the script, but if you want to also print guides to help you trim the paper, just select “Cut Guides” under the Page panel to the right.

Multiple Prints on One Page

If you are printing more than one image on large sheet or roll media, you can layout multiple images on the same page, using the Custom Package option. Here you can see I laid out an 8 x 10″ in print and an 8.5 x 11″ print side-by-side on 17″ roll paper, with a custom page size of 12 x 17″ set. Click on the image to view larger, and note the important settings circled in red. Also note the cut lines are added for each print, and do not get in the way of each other.

8 x 10" and 8.5 x 11" Prints on 12 x 17" Media (Roll)

8 x 10″ and 8.5 x 11″ Prints on 12 x 17″ Media (Roll)

Printing from Photoshop

If you print from Photoshop, the scripts are equally, if not more useful, because you have better crop mark options, as you can see in this screenshot. Ensure you leave Scale at 100% for a perfectly sized print. You can select add crop marks, center crop marks and registration marks, which really help with trimming.

Printing With Frames From Photoshop

Printing With Frames From Photoshop


Show Notes

Main Product Page:

The full sized video is above, and also on YouTube here:


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Download this Podcast for iPhone/iPod in MP4 format (Video).


Q&A #8 – MBP Fine Art Print Options Explained (Podcast 117)

Q&A #8 – MBP Fine Art Print Options Explained (Podcast 117)

Back in Episode 102 I answered one of two questions I’d received from a listener named Julian Seidenberg. Today I’m going to answer the second question, which was really a request for information about the papers and various options available for my prints, which you can buy directly from my online gallery at If you’ve ever thought of buying a print but couldn’t make up your mind on the options, this should be worth listening too. Also, although members of the MBP Web site automatically receive a 10% discount when buying prints, I’m also going to give you voucher at the end of this episode that can be entered to get a further 5% off, making a total of 15% discount if you are also a member. Before we go on, some of you will recall that I said I was going to do a review of DxO Optics Pro from DxO Labs this week, but unfortunately this is going to have to wait until next week due to a few things that came up over last weekend. Sorry if you were looking forward to this, but I am going to try my best to get this out next weekend.

Well, I need to thank Julian for the question, not only as this lets me know that others are probably also a little bewildered by all the options, but also because this prompted me to remove a few of the options that were really remnants of my old printing workflow. First though, let me read out what Julian wrote:

“For ordering prints off your gallery you list options for various types of paper. I’m, quite frankly, bewildered by the options. When do you add a white (or black) border around an image and when do you create prints that go right up the edge of the paper? Do certain styles of photographs look better (to your eye) if they are printed on a certain type of paper? Is more expensive paper always better? What benefit do you get by using paper of higher and higher quality? Does there ever come a time of diminishing returns? Do certain papers work better in certain printers? I.e. can you happily use Fuji’s highest quality paper in a Canon printer? And on that note: what kind of printer do you use and why?”

Firstly I want to say that I have printed on Fuji paper with my Epson printer, with good results, but I don’t make this an option for my prints, and I have no experience with Canon printers, so although I’d like to go into this for you, I’m not really able to. I suggest you raise this in the MBP forum and hopefully someone will be able to provide the answers your after from personal experience.

I’m going to attack the other questions out of sequence too. I’d first like to go into what printer I use, and why. I’m not sure if this is the same model number worldwide, but I currently am still using an Epson PM-4000PX printer. I use this printer for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have used Epson printers for more than 14 years and find them to be very reliable, and although I know that other printer manufacturers also have very good offerings, I’ve found until now that Epson is always at the cutting edge in the printer market. Canon though are also breaking some new ground at the moment and when I’m ready to buy a new printer I will definitely review Canon’s offerings as well. The PM-4000PX gives me the ability to print up to A3+ size paper, which is 13×19”, and that is a nice size print, even to hang on a wall and view from a distance. I am considering a larger printer, but I have to move apartments before I can fit it in, so that’s on hold at the moment. Most importantly though is the quality. I find that the PM-4000PX produces beautiful quality prints, on all of the papers that I have made available in the options we’ll discuss shortly, and as I use Epson inks, they will last longer than most traditional prints under the same conditions. Kind of as a test of how resistant these photographs are to fading, I created two 13×19” prints when I first bought the printer back in 2002, five years ago as of the time of recording, and I hung them in frames under glass in my living room, where they get a good bathing of sunlight, albeit through lace curtains, during the first few hours of everyday, and then are indirectly illuminated for the rest of the day, and they still look as vivid and clear as they did 5 years ago.

If you are really serious about collecting a print for future value, and not to display, the best thing to do is to keep it in some kind of archival box away from light, but that also goes for traditional prints from film too. Quite frankly, if you are worried about the longevity or quality of prints from this printer, you don’t need to be.

Quality does of course depend on a few factors. How large my original is, and how large a print you buy. To safeguard you from buying a print at a size that I cannot print at, I have built in the ability to limit the largest size that will be displayed in the size pull-down, so that old photos from my early cameras or photos that I have severely cropped, will only be available up to the largest size at which I can print it at an adequate quality.

Watercolour Daffodil - Hitachi Park #18

Watercolour Daffodil – Hitachi Park #18

With that note, I guess it’s time we actually talk about the options, and how to view them. If you are at a computer it would be great if we could do this together, but it’s not critical that we do. You should still get a good idea of what’s available from my explanation. So that I can be sure that we are all looking at the same options, let’s jump to image number 1392. If you have not previously clicked on the cart button, the options will be hidden by default, but to show them, just click the little shopping cart button above any image when you display it at the large size in the gallery. To hide the options again simply click the cart button once more.

So one of the changes that I’ve made is that now when you click the cart button the print buying options are displayed directly below the image, and not directly above it. I’ve done this as it will make it easier for people to browse the gallery when they want to make multiple selections. Until now, the options got in the way while browsing, unless you toggle them off again before moving to the next image. That should no longer be the case though, so if you want, you can leave the options displayed and it won’t really get in the way while browsing. I used to find that many people bought just one print, so this was not such an issue, but more often these days I’m noticing people buying multiple prints in one order, so I figured this would work better.

I should note too that most of what we’ll touch on today is for buying prints for your own use or for gifts etc. If you want prints to sell on or rent out commercially, or were thinking it might be OK to scan the print and use it commercially this is not the way to buy the print. If you are interested in any of my images for any kind of commercial or editorial use, please follow the steps we’ve mentioned so far to display the buying options for the image you are interested in, and then click the text link at the top of the options section that says “CLICK HERE to request an estimate for any kind of commercial use”. This will then add your selected photo to a form that you will need to fill out to give me the details I need to create an estimate and get back to you with the details. You can add as many images as necessary and use the same form as long as the type of use is the same. If you want multiple images with multiple types of use, please send multiple requests.

Assuming that you are buying the print for your own use or as a gift, the first thing you need to do before starting to build an order is to select your currency. You can currently choose from US dollar, Japanese Yen, UK Pound, Canadian dollar and the Australian Dollar. Just select your chosen currency from the list and click the Change Currency button next to the pull-down. Note that you need to do this before you start to put anything in your shopping cart because to prevent multiple currency shopping carts, I empty the cart when you change the currency. Note too that even if I don’t have your countries currency, the payment is by credit card or a PayPal account, so you will automatically be charged in your local currency after the credit card company converts it for you at that day’s exchange rate.

After setting the currency, all other options can be mixed and matched, so let’s start to go through these as well. In order, the first option is the type of paper you want the print to be printed on. This may well change over time, but right now, my favourite paper is the Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper. This is a very classy paper. It is not glossy, and so at first can seem quite subdued but actually has a very wide dynamic range and beautiful tones and colours. This paper is perfect if you are going to frame the print under glass, as glass adds the gloss that the paper does not have. Also you often find that viewing glossy paper under glass adds double the gloss, and therefore you can get some nasty reflections from the face of the print that can be annoying at best, and stop you from being able to see parts of the image in the worst cases. The Epson Fine Art paper is quite expensive so I charge 5% more for this than other papers, but I personally think it’s worth it. Now, I’m not going to go into detail about every option in the pull-down here, but this does lead me back to Julian’s questions – “Do certain styles of photographs look better (to your eye) if they are printed on a certain type of paper? Is more expensive paper always better?” It is not always going to be the case that the most expensive paper is the best, but it really depends on what you want to do with the image. If you do want to frame it under glass, without doubt, the Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper is going to be the best selection. Without spending too much time on this though, I finally wanted to say that there are little question marks next to every option that take you to a written explanation, including one next to the paper selection pull-down which has an explanation of the attributes of all the papers available, which should be useful.

Next is the paper size. As I mentioned earlier, in my printer I can output up to 13×19” prints, and so this is currently the largest size available. I don’t send any of my images to a lab for printing, as I prefer the control I get over my images by doing them myself. You will also find an explanation of this on the help page, but I don’t frame any of my prints before shipping. They are shipped rolled in a sturdy tube, for matting and framing by a craftsman of your choice. I would love actually to learn how to matte and matte my own prints, but to be honest, almost all of my sales go outside of Japan, and so matting them before shipping would just make the cost of shipping prohibitively expensive, so I don’t make this an option. This means that you need to think of your matting and framing options before selecting a paper size, unless you are just going to take it to be done at any size. Also, there are many excellent frames available now with a matte insert that actually look very nice once the print is inserted, so again, if you have a frame that you like, check the size of the opening in the matte board and select a paper to match.

Next is the Trimming and Border options. Both this and the next batch of radio buttons are set to my default choice. I like to put around a 10% white border around my images. In Julian’s question he mentioned a black border, but this has never been an option. There was either a white border or no border at all. You can though choose the width of your border. The default is 10%, and this is how I’d prefer to output my work, but say you have a nice 13×19” frame with an opening in the matte just that size and you want to show the image as large as possible in the opening, a 3mm border may be better for you. Just take a look at the size of the paper in millimetres under the Paper Size pull-down, and see if your matte’s opening is created to just fit, or if it is a tad smaller than the paper dimensions. I can also simply fill the paper with the print, leaving no borders at all. This will mean that I will probably have to cut off part of the original image, either along the top and bottom or the sides of the print, because they are rarely the exact same aspect as the paper. Again, there are examples of this on the help page. The last option here is to fit to the longest side of the paper. This is good if you are going to get a custom matte applied, and want the image to be as large as possible for the paper, without cropping the top and bottom or the sides. If you want anything else, please just mail me and I’ll do what I can, or make notes in the options comment field above the orange buttons, either with instructions on what you want or asking me to contact you to work on the print dimensions.

Next are the autographing options. Again my preferred way to autograph photos is preselected. I sign the prints with a black archival autograph pen, but also a small 15 x 15mm Japanese stamp with my name written in Kanji which are the originally Chinese characters used in Japanese writing. This is a traditional way for Japanese artists to sign their work and I think adds a nice touch to the prints. I have two stamps. One as I say 15x15mm and a smaller one at 10x10mm for prints as small as 5×7”. I have never gotten around to limiting the selection of these radio buttons, but please remember that if you select this option, you also need to select the 10% Border option, as there is nowhere to apply the stamp without the border. The characters on the stamp by the way actually read from top to bottom, right to left. In the top right is a character that can be read HEI, then RI in the bottom right, MA in the top left and then TEN in the bottom left. In certain circumstances HEI can also be read BEI, although usually when it comes after another character, unlike in this case. With a little imagination though, the whole name can be read BEIRI MATEN, or Bailey Martin, with the surname first. I could go into the reasons why I chose these characters but won’t today for the sake of time. If you are interested, maybe ask in the forum and I’ll explain in writing.

The other options here are to autograph without the stamp but still in the border, and I can also autograph over the image itself, say if you didn’t choose a border, or if you want to matte right up to the edge of the image using the border as an anchor. I usually do this with the same black archival autograph pen, but if the colours of the image don’t allow for this, I have a number of coloured permanent pens that I can use and will usually select something that sets off the image, and doesn’t clash with the colours in that area or in the image as a whole. The last option here is to not autograph the print at all.

Next is the number of prints you want to buy and then the field I mentioned earlier to add comments if you want me to do something with the print that is not listed in the options. Then there are four buttons. The bottom two buttons are to reset the form, removing your selected options, and another to empty the cart. The more important ones are at the top, and they are Add to Cart and View Cart. When you have made all your selections, you just need to click the Add to Cart button, or if you are browsing around and looking for other images and want to review what you already have in the cart, just hit the View Cart button. Either button though displays the cart, so let’s take a look at that now. I suggest that if you haven’t already done so, make a few selections and then hit the Add to Cart button, or just go ahead and click it with the defaults selected. You won’t of course have to buy anything unless you go through with the payment. This is just to take a look.

The cart will be opened in a separate window. Ignore the graphic with a rather old selection of images at the top of the cart, and take a look first at the details of the image you just added. There is a button to the left to delete the image, say if you had selected a few images but decided against some of them. Then there is the quantity you added and the code of the image. This is just the unique identifier that I use across my site, so you’ll see 1392 in there if you went to the image I mentioned earlier. The next column is the Description, and this contains a somewhat cut down version of what you added. This is cut down somewhat because the cart is cookie based, and the more information I add here, the fewer images the cart will support. This is a bit of a pain, but a technical issue that is not easily overcome. Then you’ll see the cost of the print and the total, which will be different if you added more than one copies of the same print. To the far right you’ll see a thumbnail of your image so that you can remember which one is which in multiple print orders. Below is the subtotal and then the postage and packing costs, then the total cost for the order.

Note that the 10% members’ discount is removed before the items get added to your cart so they are not listed here, but there are also some discounts for buying more than 5 and 10 items, which will appear here if that is what you do. There are four buttons along the bottom of the table which I’ll briefly explain. There’s the checkout button to jump to Paypal to start paying for the order, a Return button to take you back to my gallery leaving the cart open. A Print button to print out the contents of your order, and a Clear Cart button that does just that, empties the cart.

You have to check the checkbox saying that you agree to the terms and conditions before you can actually make payment and complete your order. Click on the Terms and Conditions link to actually read them and then check the checkbox before proceeding. The Terms and Conditions are actually on the help page, but you just need to take a look at the two paragraphs under the Terms and Conditions section. Below this checkbox is a field to enter the voucher that I’ll give you shortly on the off-chance that you might have been sitting on the fence on buying a print. Let’s actually click the checkout button so that I can explain the process a little. This is still not going to cost you anything unless you are using this podcast as a guide to actually buying a print.

Once you hit the Checkout button, you will be transferred to PayPal to process your payment. I wanted to quickly explain here that from many countries, you do not actually need to create a PayPal account unless you already have one or wanted one anyway. On the left side of the screen should be lots of fields to enter your name, address and credit card details. Remember from this point all of the windows are encrypted so the payment process is totally secure. If you are actually buying a print, this is all you need to do, then press the button to preview your order and continue. If however, you do have a PayPal account, you just need to enter your email address and PayPal password on the right side of the screen, and hit the Log in button.

Whether you have a PayPal account or not, once you have reviewed the order and confirmed payment that will usually be all you have to do. There are certain conditions though that sometimes trigger PayPal ask you to register for their Expanded Use program. If this happens, you have to register a credit card and have PayPal take a small payment, then check the random four digit number on your credit card bill, either online or when it arrives by post, and then enter that number into the PayPal Web site to complete this Expanded use registration. The small payment made will be deducted from your first payment, so you don’t lose any money, but this does cost us some time. PayPal don’t divulge why they sometimes do this, and although it’s a pain if it happens, it is to keep the integrity of the system high, so I guess we have to put up with it. Usually though, your payment should sale through.

Once you have made payment, I receive the order by mail, and unless I’m on an extended shoot will usually start to create the prints within 24 hours and get it send out to you within a further 24 hours. I aim to fulfill all orders and get them shipped within 72 hours of the order being placed and have managed this for every order I’ve received so far. Shipment to your own country of course will vary, depending on how far you are from Japan and the speed of your local postal service. I don’t use a courier like FedEx or UPS or whatever, again to keep the cost down. I do though guarantee that if the print is damaged, and you can prove that it was damaged during postage by sending me a picture of the damage, I will send you out another print, again, within 72 hours. I actually had some problems a few years ago while I was using a different type of tube for packaging, but since changing over a year ago I have not had any issues at all, so you really needn’t worry about damage to your print.

I tape a piece of paper around the rolled print too, to stop it from opening up inside the tube, which I found makes it very difficult to get the print out. Now it just drops out once you open the tube, and just need to rip the paper off from around the center of the print to see unroll it and take a look for the first time. There will be some curling of the print, but if you intend to have it matted and framed the person that does this will take care of that. If you want to you can roll the print the other way yourself, but be careful not to crumple it, and also use the piece of plain paper that I roll with the print to protect the surface of the print from damage.

Actually, I should mention that if you buy prints smaller prints I will probably ship them in a sturdy envelope, as opposed to a tube, but again, have so far not heard of any issues with damage during shipment. One last thing I should mention is that I cannot be held responsible if you are charged tax for the print. Again, I’ve not heard to anyone being charged to date, but if your country does choose to charge tax on it, I’m afraid it would be your own responsibility to settle that charge.

So, as I mentioned in the introduction, now that you’ve listened to the end I’m going to give you a coupon now that you can enter into the field in the shopping cart window that says “Enter your coupon code here”. Please don’t write this coupon down anywhere on the web, as it’s especially for you listeners as a thank you for your time and for your loyalty. The coupon is, MBPListener, with the first four characters, “MBPL” in uppercase or capital letters, and the remaining seven characters, “istner” in lower case, small letters. So that’s a capital MPBL with a small istner, MBPListener. Please make sure that you have logged on from that machine at some point for your initial 10% discount to be applied as well. When this discount has been applied you’ll see the phrase “Additional 10% MBP member discount applied!” in red characters at the bottom left of the buying options section. Note too as I said earlier that the additional 5% discount will only show up as 5% in the cart. You will not see a 15% discount the first ten is already deducted. All the prices you’ll see after being logged on are already 10% less than the list price for my prints.

So that’s it for today. I hope this has been of help to those of you that were interested but a little confused about the options, and thanks again to Julian for the prompt for the Podcast. Again, sorry that I couldn’t bring you the DxO Optics Pro review that I promised you last week. I’m going to try to get that completed ready for next week’s episode. And that’s about it for today. So with that, all that remains to be said is thanks for listening, and you have a great week, whatever you’re doing — Bye-bye.

Show Notes

The main thing to remember is if you aren’t sure about the options, choose the defaults. This will always give the best results, and allows me the creative freedom to crop as necessary leaving a tasteful border. Of course you can always contact me with any queries too, and I’m open to specific requests that you can mail in advance or write into the optional comments field when ordering prints.


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Michael Rammell

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Appreciating Hard Copies (Podcast 63)

Appreciating Hard Copies (Podcast 63)

Nothing gives me more pleasure, apart from the actual shooting of photographs, than to print out and hold a good quality print. With computers and digital cameras getting cheaper by the year, and software to support our digital workflows getting better and easier to use, many people, including myself are not actually holding a physical print of our work. Rather the digital images are captured and stored in digital form, and viewed on our computer screens or TVs, and never make it into a physical, tangible object. Today I’m going to talk about some prints I’ve recently made with Adobe Lightroom Beta 4 and some benefits of this excellent addition to my digital workflow, and just ponder over my feelings about fine art prints. I’m also going to talk a little about a possible new medium that I’m thinking about, and would like to call for your feedback on.

Recently I shot an image while walking in a local park on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t really want to focus on the image so much today, but let’s take a look at it to help me explain. It’s image number 1151. If you’re new to this Podcast, you can listen to Episode 0 to find out the various ways to view my images, including by using this number. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the image when I shot it. The flower which is by the way a “Hairy Toad Lilly” is quite a pretty flower, with white petals and reddish purple blotches of colour. This was a 1 second exposure at F5.6, with a tarmac path in the background and some trees behind that. At this focussing distance with my 100mm Macro and a 25mm extension tube, the background is thrown completely out of focus, so it was not distracting, but it was not interesting in any way either. I usually try to include some other foliage and sometimes other flowers to add blotches of colour in my macro shots, but the angle I needed to shoot from didn’t allow for this on this occasion. I started thinking that the uninteresting background, and even the colour of the flower itself was adding nothing to the shot might look better in black and white, so I decided to try the “Grey Scale Mixer” in Lightroom. As I moved the sliders around the image just came to life. It’s incredibly easy to get great effects by adjusting the red, yellow, green, cyan blue and magenta sliders. When I’d got something I liked, I also tried changing the white balance of the shot with the slider. Of course, because the image was now greyscale, it did not make the image look warmer or cooler, but because the underlying image would have looked much warmer if it wasn’t grey scale, this had a huge effect on how the black and white image looked. If you’ve not tried this in your black and white conversions, I suggest you give it a try.

Hairy Toad Lily

Anyway, once I’d created this really quite pleasing black and white image, I started to think that I’d like to print it out on Epson Professional Fine Art papers. I’d brought and tried the UltraSmooth Fine Art Paper a few months ago, and fell in love with it. I also bought the somewhat more textured Velvet Fine Art Paper last weekend, and decided to print this and a few other images out on both to really just see how they looked and to also compare the two papers. I’d been meaning for some time to add these papers as an option for the prints of my images that you can buy directly from my Web site, but I’d not gotten around to it as I’d not found the time to really print out any more than a few images and was not confident to add this option. The paper is also considerably more expensive than regular high quality Epson or Pictorico papers that I have made available some time ago. Although the standard papers that I already offer prints on do provide incredibly good results, having printed out a number of images on these Epson Professional Fine Art Papers, I found that the results are just unbelievable. They’re beautiful. The latitude or dynamic range is excellent and the matte finish stops any surface reflection that can get in the way when viewing glossy prints. The weight of these papers too just reeks of quality. When holding a 13×19” print I can really tell that I’m holding a work of art. An object of beauty and quality! Before I move on I do just want to plug the fact that you can buy these prints from my gallery by hitting the large “Buying Options” button above the images when viewed at full size. You just need to select the paper from the pull-down and fill out a few more options then add to the cart. Remember also that members of the Web site get an additional 10% discount, so make sure you’re logged on to get this membership benefit.

After all that, I really got to thinking about how little I print these days. As I said earlier, I really do enjoy printing out my images and holding a physical copy in my hand. If we shoot negative film, the main method to view prints is to get a little envelope of prints back from the store, or go into the darkroom and make our own prints, but we would hold a print in our hand, and possibly pass it or them around the table for all to see. This is slightly different if you shoot slide film as I did for around 10 years, as what comes back from the store is a box of mounted slides. Of course, to view these slides I would get my projector and screen out and spend hours looking through them, but still, I would select the best shots and have prints made from them, again to hold and often to frame or store in addition to the slides. Although the number of prints I ended up with would probably be less than a person shooting negatives, I would eventually end up with physical prints to hold and admire.

Around five years ago when good quality scanners gave us the ability to scan slide film at a reasonable cost, I selected my best images, and spent a fair amount of time scanning them in to my PC and processing them. I already had a compact digital camera at that time, and around that time I bought my first digital SLR. So from five years ago, my photography workflow became completely digital. When I compare the number of analogue photos I shot in my first six years in Japan from 1991 to 1997, to the number of images I’ve shot in the last six years here, which are mostly digital, I’m probably talking around 30 or 40 times more. But when I look at the number of physical prints I have made in the same 6 year period, it’s really just a tiny fraction, despite the fact probably not even 1/40th, in fact, probably not even 100th the amount of prints. And this is also in spite of the fact that I can now produce prints so much more easily than before, and at my own pace. Of course, the reason for this is because I no longer need the print to view the image from a negative, although I always had an additional cost to create prints from my slides. Now though, I simply transfer the image files from my media to the PC and I can view them in moments on my computer screen. The quality of the images on the screen is excellent and I can view slideshows etc. much more easily than I could even flick through a stack of prints. So it is not surprising that I am not printing as much as in the past.

But, having sat in my living room over the last few days holding these 13×19”, luxuriously heavy 100% cotton rag, archival, museum quality prints, I must admit that I really feel I should be printing much more. After all, this was the way to view the end product of our art for more than a century until the advent of digital imagery. It would be such a shame to let this crucial part of the art of photography die out, especially now that digital photography has made it so much easier to get to this point.

Of course, the quality of printers has become so much better than 5 or 6 years ago too, and as I mentioned, I did my recent printing from Adobe Lightroom Beta 4. This has made printing so much simpler than printing from Photoshop. Photoshop is easy to get the results I want with, but Lightroom has just made it so much better. Here’s why. My favourite setting when printing is to add a 10% border around the image, effectively printing the image at 80% in the middle of the paper. To do this in Photoshop, I have to height for the size I would like to print the image at in millimetres, into the size field when preparing to print. If the aspect ratio of the image is almost the same as the paper I’m going to print to, I have to check that the image is not going to be too wide say, if I have cropped the photo across the top and/or bottom. If it is going to be too wide, I have to then input the width I want to print too instead. As I have lots of different paper sizes, I have to keep an Excel spreadsheet of all the sizes in millimetres to enable me to quickly input them. This saves me from having to recalculate each time, but it’s still a bit of a pain to look them up each time.

Since I’m now using the Lightroom beta in the core of my digital workflow, I thought I’d give printing module a try, to see if it’s as good as the others. I’ve found that it is indeed as good as the other modules I’ve played with so far. Lightroom is really all about making the digital workflow as fast and easy as it can be, at the same time as providing powerful tools. Well it really has made my printing, or more specifically, the setting up of a print job much faster than it has been until now. The thing is, I can now set up templates for various paper sizes and borders, so I now have a list of all my paper sizes and border settings in my Template Browser on the left that I just select, and Lightroom automatically sizes my selected photo to fit the longest edge. It also remembers the paper sizes and all other settings, including the printer/paper profiles I select.

Actually this is another very useful feature I should briefly mention. To select the profile for my printer/paper combination, I just click select it from the Profile pull-down in the Print Job Settings section on the right. This is “Managed by Printer” by default, but if you select “Other” from the bottom of the pull-down list, you get a list of all printer profiles installed on your computer, to add them to the pull-down, and from then on, it’s literally just one click to select that profile in future. Lightroom remembers the last selection if changed too so if you don’t change your paper, again, there’s nothing to do. It might better to create a new template for each different paper for real one-click printing, but as the profile selection is right above the print button, for one extra click, I can keep the number of templates in my list down, so I’m not quite sure yet which I’ll go with. Either way, Lightroom has once again made my workflow so much simpler, which is an age where time really is of the essence, every minute or hour I can save on stuff like this is very much appreciate.

So that’s about it for the main topic of my current views on the hard copy, and I was hoping I could get your feedback on an idea I’m currently working on, which will allow you to download and print out your own Hard Copy, or view what I’m calling a Soft Hard Copy of the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast’s transcripts. Over the last year or so since starting this Podcast, I’ve been requested to publish the transcript so that people can follow along with the audio. As the transcripts are really much more of, again, a tangible form of the Podcast, I’ve been reluctant to publish them for free on my Web site. Right now I’m thinking of releasing the transcripts for the Podcasts in PDF form as a supplement to the audio files. I believe especially for technical Podcasts, like the MTF Chart one last week and many of the other more technical episodes, it would help to understand the subject if you could follow along with the text either on screen or with a printed copy. Each PDF would essentially be a standalone document, an essay of around 5 to 10 A4 pages including the images I discuss where applicable and any Web links and notes etc.

The thing is this is going to mean some financial and substantial time investments on my part to both set up a system to manage subscriptions and downloads, and to actually create the last 63 episode’s documents and continue to create them for each new episode that is released, so I’m asking for your feedback before I proceed.

I’m thinking that each document would cost around $3.99 each, with volume discounts, probably around $17.50 for any five documents or $29.99 for any ten documents. The documents you choose to download would be up to you and probably linked to your Martin Bailey Photography Web site account. You could either pay for an download individual Episodes’ PDF, or buy 5 or 10 credits, which would allow you to just select the PDFs you want, until you run out of credits. If you decide you want to download more, you simply pay for an extra download, or packages of 5 or 10 credits, and download away until you hit your new limit. There’d probably also be a Platinum subscription, or something like that for $149 that would allow you to download all documents to date, but I’ve not figured out the logistics of this one yet.

For now, I am hoping that I could get your feedback on whether or not you would find such a supplement useful to the point that you’d pay for the documents. Of course, the audio files will remain totally free. I’m only talking about the PDF transcription, and there’s absolutely no obligation to buy anything based on your feedback if I proceed with the plan. I’m just interested in to hear if you think the transcripts would be worth paying a nominal fee for. I’ve created a post in the forum at to gather your feedback and votes on a few possible options. I’ll put a link to the post and poll in the show notes, so if you have a minute, please swing by and let me know what you think. Again, there is no obligation to buy anything, even if you think it’s a great idea. Thanks in advance for your time!
Please remember that the latest photography assignment on “Sound!” is currently in progress, so check out the related episode and forum post on that if you are interested in getting involved. It’s a tough one, but hopefully you’ll come up with some great work as usual.

And that’s about it for this week. Have a great week, whether you’re out shooting, or whatever you do. Bye bye.

Show Notes
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