Exporting and Printing Images in Capture One Pro (Podcast 538)

Exporting and Printing Images in Capture One Pro (Podcast 538)

Capture One Pro is a very powerful raw image processing application, that supports the photographer’s digital workflow from importing through to exporting, in a number of formats. Today we’re going to look at the many ways in which you can export your images from Capture One Pro, including printing.

Last week, we covered importing and organizing images and catalogs in Capture One Pro. Right now, I’m in Greenland and next week I’ll be in Iceland, photographing some of the planets most beautiful and striking landscapes, so I’m going to save a tutorial on processing images until after I get back.

As I’m still relatively new to Capture One, that will give me more time to practice my own various processing techniques, so the discussion will be more valuable for you, and I’ll hopefully have some nice photos from Greenland and Iceland to share with you as well. This week, let’s concentrate on getting your processed images back out of Capture One Pro in a number of different formats.

Exporting Original Format Images

Export Originals to Finals Folder

Export Originals to Finals Folder.

If you simply need to export your original raw files, or any other format of image that you might have in your catalog, you can simply export the original file, as I do to make a copy of my final selects to my Finals folder, as I mentioned last week.

To do this, select the images you want to export, and right click one of the thumbnails, and from the shortcut menu, select Export, then select Originals. You can also get to this option from the File menu.

I don’t change the image name on export, because I changed on import. After checking the destination etc. click the Export button, as you see in this screenshot (right).

Output – Process Recipes

For most other file export operations, you’ll first jump to the Output tab in Capture One Pro, which is the single cogwheel icon, that you can see in orange in the top left corner of the screenshot here (below). If you can’t see the detail, click on the image to view it larger.

Capture One Pro Output Process Recipes

Capture One Pro Output Process Recipes

In the Output screen you can create and select Process Recipes, which are used to export your images into various formats and sizes. There are a number of Recipes already in this view when you first install Capture One Pro, but I think almost all of the one’s you can see in this screenshot are Recipes that I’ve created myself.

Export Formats

Capture One Pro supports exporting images in JPEG, JPEG QuickProof, JPEG XR, JPEG 2000, TIFF, DNG, PNG and PSD file formats. If you intend to import your images back into Capture One, avoid using Photoshop PSD files, because they aren’t supported. I’m now using the lossless TIFF format for all images that I will bring back into Capture One to continue to work on, say for example, if I need to go into Photoshop to do some extensive cloning.

You can change the file format from the Format pulldown under the Process Recipe > Basic section, but if you are going to output in that format more than once or twice, save yourself some time by creating a Process Recipe preset.

Process Recipe Presets

To create a new Recipe, click the + button at the bottom of the Process Recipes panel, and an Untitled Recipe will be added to the list, with the name selected ready for you to change it to something meaningful. You might enter something like “TIFF 16 Bit Full Size (ProPhoto RGB)” which would be good for exporting images to edit in Photoshop.

Export for Web Process Recipe

Export for Web Process Recipe

Export for Web

You can resize images during export as well, and add watermarks, so let’s look at how you might create an Export for Web Process Recipe.

Note that if you start changing the settings under the Process Recipe section before creating a new Recipe, it will just change the Recipe that you currently have selected, so let’s hit the + button at the bottom of the Process Recipes section first, and give our Recipe a name, like “Export for Web”.

Although you can export as PNG, the JPEG format is more suitable for photographs for the Web, so select JPEG from the format pulldown. I usually select 92 for the Quality, because it halves the size of the file but leaves no visible artifacts in the image.

Resolution is good at 72 pixels per inch for the Web, and I’m going to set the Height of my image to 960 pixels. I like my landscape orientation images to be 1440 pixels wide and 960 pixels high, but to stop my portrait orientation images getting too tall, I also resize those to 960 pixels high, so just selecting 960 pixels high resizes both orientations correctly.

I’d like to be able to open my images in Finder after they are all created, but Finder isn’t actually listed as an Application on the Mac OS so I leave Open With set to None.

Select an Output location, and if you want to change the name of your files on output, create or select a preset for that too. You can see a summary of your settings in the Process Summary area, but for before we click the Process button, let’s check a few other things. Under the Adjustments tab, uncheck Disable Sharpening, because you generally want your resized Web images to be sharpened a little.

Under Metadata, select your required options. It’s best to keep your Copyright information intact, but you may want to remove GPS coordinates, especially if you are going to share images from your home. Including Camera Metadata is usually OK, and actually better if you are sharing your images in an education-centric environment, and including Keywords is usually a good idea too.

Watermarking Images

Add a Watermark

Add a Watermark

If you like to watermark your images for the Web, you can do that under the Watermark tab, as you can see in this screenshot (right).

I just use my logo in black with a white drop shadow, and reduce the Opacity to 77%, and this makes it somewhat transparent, but can be seen on most colored backgrounds, so I don’t have to mess around selecting a different colored logo depending on the background.

The Horizontal and Vertical positions shown here will place the watermark in the bottom left hand corner of the image. If you want to just position the logo with your mouse, click the little hand icon at the top right corner of the Watermark panel.

Once you’ve set that up, just click the Process button, and your select image or images will be output to the Output folder you specified, resized and watermarked and ready for the Web.

Export to Multiple Formats Simultaneously

One of the other great things about the Capture One Pro Output tab, is that you can turn on the checkbox for multiple Process Recipes, and once you press the Process button, you’ll get a copy in all of the selected file formats and sizes.

If you want to specify a specific output location for certain image types, so that they don’t all get put into the same Output location, you can select a different location under the File tab too, and this is saved in your Process Recipe, which is very useful.

Round Trip Editing

To send a selected photograph to a third party application for editing, you can right click a thumbnail and select Open With, and select the third party application, such as Photoshop, from the submenu. Keep in mind though that this method will open the original file without any of the changes that you’ve made in Capture One, and that may not be what you want to do.

A better option if you want to keep your changes, yet send the image straight to a program such as Photoshop, is to right click the image and select Edit With, which opens a dialog for you to select the format and color space etc. as you can see in this screenshot (below). Note also that this will create a copy of the image that it sends to Photoshop.

Edit With Dialog

Edit With Dialog

Also, note that under the Adjustments tab of this dialog, there is a Disable Sharpening option. Most of the time raw files need a little bit of sharpening to make them look normal again, as raw files can be a little bit soft. Keep this option in mind, and uncheck it, to enable sharpening as necessary.

The great thing about using this Edit With method, is that the copy that is created is added to your Catalog automatically, so when you’ve finished editing in the third party program and save your image, when you come back into Capture One Pro, it’s right there waiting for you.

Always Soft Proofing

One of the coolest things about Capture One Pro is that you are pretty much always in soft proof mode, which means you get to see the affect that the selected Color Space or ICC Profile has on your images as you edit and output them.

In the earlier screenshots, with the Himba Girl, I had a 16 bit TIFF Process Recipe selected, and it was using the ProPhoto RGB color space. This gives me the most wiggle room when editing my images. I also have an Adobe RGB and an sRGB color space TIFF Process Recipe, so that I can easily compare all three color spaces.

Most of the time, as I switch between these various color spaces, the software does what it’s supposed to do, and correctly converts between these larger and smaller color spaces, so it’s difficult to impossible to see any difference.

I have a few black and white images that I have processed in Capture One Pro, that do change slightly in the Capture One Pro interface, but when I export them, they all look the same, so I actually think that’s a problem with the software rendition of the image on screen.

A very import application of this soft proofing feature, is that you can choose to view your images using either a specific profile, or always use the profile that you have selected from the Process Recipes list, regardless of where you are in the user interface. To make Capture One always use the selected Process Recipe ICC profile, under the View menu, choose Selected Recipe from the Proof Profile submenu.

Soft Proofing for Print

With Capture One set up to always use the Selected Recipe’s ICC profile when creating your preview, you can create a Recipe and select one of your print ICC profiles, and select that to get a soft proofing view of your images before printing them. I selected a 16 bit TIFF, and selected my printer ICC profile while creating a number of printer soft proofing profiles, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Soft Proofing for Print

Soft Proofing for Print

Also note that when soft proofing for print, it’s generally a good idea to change the background to white, to simulate the white borders or matte around your print. If you view the print with a dark background, it makes the paper simulation look too harsh, and it’s difficult to really gauge what your printed image will look like.

To change the background color, go to your Capture One Preferences, and change the Color for the Viewer under the Appearance tab. Also, while you are in the preferences, set a widish Proof Margin, say of around 30 pixels. With that set you can easily turn on the Proof Margin with the button at the top left corner of the viewing area, next to where it says Background in this screenshot.

Finally, if you have Viewer Labels turned on, showing shooting information and the filename below the large preview of your photo, turn that off by selecting Hide Viewer Labels, under the View menu. By this point, you’ll have a photo totally surrounded by white.

Adjusting for Print

You can see in this screenshot (above) that when selecting a matte media type, like Breathing Color’s Pura Bagasse Smooth, the image can look a little bit pale and lack contrast. I find that the reality is a little bit better than this in the print, but it’s a good guide, as matte prints are never as punchy as gloss prints.

If you want to make some changes to your image, just for print, it’s a good idea to make a Variant, which is a virtual copy of the original image. In Capture One Pro, when you right click a thumbnail and select New Variant, you get a copy of your image without any of the changes you’ve made to the image. Assuming you want to keep those changes and make further adjustments for your print, select Clone Variant from the shortcut menu.

Using Color Readouts

Another very useful feature in Capture One, especially when it comes to preparing to print, is the Color Readouts. Generally, when printing, you want to avoid total black and total white. I often don’t head this advice myself when it comes to blacks. I’ll go to 100% black and my printers usually handle it fine, but it’s worth understanding this theory, and generally worth trying to avoid pure white.

Select Add Color Readout from the bottom of the Picker tools, which is second from the right in the toolbar above the viewer in this screenshot (below). Then, click on some of the key areas of your photograph. I like to check the darkest area, the brightest highlight, and a mid tone.

Using Color Readouts

Using Color Readouts

When I placed these Color Readouts on my original image, the background was 0, total black, and the shell was 255, which is pure white, so I created a Clone Variant, and adjusted my Levels, to bring these values in just a little, which would be good printing practice. You can see that now in my resulting image, my darkest background has a luminance of 2, and my brightest highlight, the shells on this Himba Girls traditional necklace is 253. Her face is 111.

Exposure Warnings

Another option for checking the darkest and brightest areas of your image for print, are the Exposure Warnings, which you can turn on with the warning triangle icon in the toolbar. I set my highlight warnings at 253 and my shadow warning at 2. As you can see from this screenshot (below), the background is mostly 2 or darker, but I intentionally darkened that, and I’m fine with printing this image as it is, with just a little tweak.

Exposure Warnings

Exposure Warnings

Of course, if you want to make any other modifications for print, increasing contrast, changing the colors to stop them going out of gamut, now would be the time to do it. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to display gamut warnings in Capture One Pro, so unless it’s really well hidden, I don’t think it supports it. I’m hoping that is something that will change at some point though.

Printing!

Once you have your soft proofing done, and are ready to print, you could of course just send the photo to Photoshop and print from there, but just as I always printed from Lightroom, I love to be able to print right in my processing and workflow tool. Plus, I hate printing from Photoshop, so I’ve been printing quite happily from Capture One Pro for the last few weeks.

Unlike Lightroom where you go to the Print module to print, in Capture One Pro, you can hit the Print button from the top menu at any time, regardless of where you are in the program. The print window opens, and you get to select your settings.

We can create templates in Capture One to save margin and layout information, but it forgets about page size and ICC profiles whenever you close the program. Fortunately, these are quick settings to change, so select your paper size, and the ICC profile for your printer and media combination from the Color Profile menu.

Printing from Capture One

Printing from Capture One

From what I’ve seen so far, the print Sharpening that is done by Capture One when set at 25 is enough for my own images. You may need to change this depending on how sharp your original image is, and also it may need to be increased for larger prints too, but for now, I’ve been leaving this at 25.

You can set your margins depending on how much border you want. I use my 7:13% offset border, to raise the image up slightly, and you can see the dimensions I use in my Print Borders spreadsheet that you can download here. Once you have entered your border dimensions, click the Templates pulldown, and select Save User Template. In this screenshot (above) you can see that I called this one 18 x 24 inches 7-13 borders.

So, once that’s set up, I can quickly recall my margin sizes and I’m ready to hit the Print button. Another very cool thing about printing from Capture One Pro, is that when I switch from Landscape to Portrait orientation, it automatically switches the borders around for me, so I no longer have to save a separate template for each orientation.

No File Names!

The only thing that I don’t like about printing from Capture One Pro, and I’m hoping this will be changed very soon, is that it does not pass the filename to the printer. It prints everything as Untitled, and that renders the Accounting Manager with my Canon large format printer pretty much useless.

I need to be able to identify the files printed to find the print costs, and when they all say Untitled, that becomes a pain, especially when I sometimes have to show the costs to customers via email, because without their filename in the accounting information, I could be charging them for any old print.

See You on the Flip-side!

OK, so we’ll wrap it up there for this week. As I said, I’ll be in Greenland when this is released, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to record an extra episode or two while I’m in Reykjavik, before I start my Iceland tour, so there may be a bit of a blank before I get caught up again at the end of September. Do stay with me though, because I’ll be back, and I’m looking forward to sharing my new work with you and putting together a tutorial on how I’m processing my images in Capture One Pro 9 as well.

Capture One Pro 10% Discount

Please note that due to changes in Phase One, the discount code that I mentioned in the Podcast is no longer valid. 

Also, note that you can download a fully working trial version of Capture One Pro from the Phase One Web site, and try it out for a full 30 days before you buy. See if you love it as much as I do.


Show Notes

Download Capture One Pro here: https://mbp.ac/c1download

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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Podcast 266 : Signing Fine Art Prints and Canvases

Podcast 266 : Signing Fine Art Prints and Canvases

Many times I’ve been asked how I sign my fine art prints, and having received an email recently from listener Tanya Mattson from Pennsylvania, USA, I decided to go into a little bit of detail on this in today’s episode. Apparently Tanya and her husband had watched the video I released recently showing the lamination process for Breathing Color Lyve Canvas, and during the intro I signed the canvas print that I would be laminating, and it was watching this that triggered the question.

So, firstly thanks for watching the video Tanya, and thanks for the question. Tanya had asked for details of the pens that I used, and also if they were archival, so let’s touch on these areas in turn.

Signing a Canvas from my Video

Signing a Canvas from my Video

I have tried many pens over the years, and right now I use a variety of pens depending on the paper and purpose.

Sakura Color Products Corporation Pens

Sakura Color Products Corporation Pens

The pen that I’ve used the most and I still use sometimes is a photo signing pen from Sakura Color Products Corporation. I use this still for some matte prints, but it’s a good pen for signing gloss prints especially. It’s basically a felt-tip pen, with a large and a fine tip, on either end of the pen. I quickly took some photos to show you, and I’ll put these images into the blog post and the Enhance Podcast, so you’ll be able to see them on your iPhone or iPod, or go to my blog if you are listening at your computer.

Although pretty good for signing gloss prints, the problem I found with felt-tip pens like this is that the tips can be relatively dry, which leads to the signature looking patchy when signing matte paper like the Hahnemühle Photo Rag or textured papers like their Museum Etching fine art paper. Another option for signing matte papers, and these are archival too of course, is a good old pencil. Pencils are good for signing in the border of a matte print, but don’t work so well when you have to sign over the photograph itself, unless it’s very pale and you use a relatively soft pencil. The problem with softer pencils though is that they can smudge easily, so not the best idea.

The other pen to the left of the photo signing pen in the photo is also from Sakura Color Products Corporation, and this is another felt-tip, but is a pigment based pen, so it certainly feels better to use on archival quality fine art prints. I have three of these in different thicknesses. A very fine one, for signing small prints, and in the same vein, a medium one for medium sized prints and a pretty wide tipped one for large prints. It doesn’t look great to sign with a great bit fat pen if your print is only pretty small. The signature starts to carry too much weight in my opinion if it’s too thickly written. The same problem happens with these Pigma Graphic pens though, in that they tend to be a little on the dry side for signing fine art matte paper.

Uni-Ball Signo Pigment Gel Pens

Uni-Ball Signo Pigment Gel Pens

For my matte prints, and also for the canvases that I’ve recently started doing, I’ve settled on a pigment based gel ink range of pens from Mitsubishi, under the name Uni-ball Signo. These don’t have the problem where they dry up while writing, even on matte papers, and they push out enough ink to be able to easily write on heavily textured canvas, as you will have seen in the video that I released as episode 164, in which I showed you the Breathing Color Lyve Canvas lamination process.

As for whether or not these gel pens are archival, I’ve never been able to find conclusive evidence that they are, but I have found numerous forums and artists web sites discussing people using them, and have not been able to find any threads discussing them discoloring or hurting the paper in any way. Now, of course, this is unlikely to happen straight away, but also helping me to make up my decision to use these pens is the fact that I actually bought a set of these pens in various colors for signing prints some seven years ago, and I still have some old prints signed with the same pens from that time, and they haven’t altered at all with time.

The ink in the original set of pens did dry up though, so when I was looking for a pen to sign my new gallery canvas prints recently, I had to buy some more, but on searching for pigment gel ink pens, I ended up at the exact same make and model that I’d bought seven years ago, so I checked my old prints, found no problems, and went with these pens. Seven years might not be a long time in the scheme of things, but I’m pretty happy to bet that they will not show any problems over the long term.

I didn’t buy a whole range of colors this time, as my original idea of using a color that complimented the print went out of favor in my mind after the initial thought. What I did buy though is the three colors that we can see in the photo here, which is black, silver and white.

Black is my default color for most prints, as it’s understated and doesn’t scream for attention. This is the color that I used to sign the print that I showed in the video in episode 164, and I have also started using this to sign in the border of matte fine art prints, as we can see here.

Signature with Stamp

Signature with Stamp

The white pen is great for signing on black or in very dark corners of prints, as we can see in this next photo, which is the corner of a canvas print for my December exhibition here in Tokyo.

White Signature on Black

White Signature on Black

I also bought a silver pen, but in reality, it’s a nice light to mid-tone grey, which I’ve started using for some black and white prints, like the long exposure of the Towada Lake with the wooden jetty that we see here. These pigment gel pens are only $1.50 so I figured I’d pick one up, and I think it looks quite good on the darker grey. Again, I want the signature to be noticeable, but not scream my name out to people, and so the three colors that I have right now seem like a good range to have.

Silver on Grey

Silver on Grey

I’m not sure if these can be bought outside of Japan with the same name but as I say, my pens are from Mitsubishi and they are called Uni-ball Signo. The part number for the black is UM-153 .24. The .24 seems to indicates the color. The white pen has a .1 on it and the silver pen is .26. I also have a UM-151 .24 which is a fine tip black for smaller prints. I haven’t yet been able to find a medium tip, but I’m keeping my eye out for these, to complete my range. Note though that as I said earlier, these same pens that I bought some seven years ago dried up while I wasn’t using them, so you probably don’t want to go crazy and buy a whole range of these, unless you are going to be using them regularly.

Practice Signatures

Practice Signatures

Tanya also mentioned in her mail that the gel pens she’d found tend to leak too much ink, so I did just want to mention that I haven’t noticed these pens leak as such, though they do put out a lot of ink once you start writing. I find this a benefit when signing matte prints or the canvas, as I mentioned earlier, but another trick that I use is to always keep a piece of canvas or matte paper hanging around to do a practice signature before I actually sign the print. This not only helps to condition the pen before signing a full sized print, but it also helps me to write my signature more smoothly. When you’ve just printed out a 24×36 inch canvas, costing around $17 just for materials, the last thing you want to do ruin it with a messed up signature, and believe me, I’ve come close a few times. I always get nervous when I’m signing prints, so the little practice beforehand really helps.

Before we finish, I did also just want to touch on that age old question of whether or not to actually sign the prints in the first place. Well, for my December Exhibition, I am going to be signing all of the canvas wraps, because I really have to sign them before I laminate them, so that the signature is locked in there, as part of the piece.

I’m still undecided as to whether to sign my Hahnemühle Photo Rag and Museum Etching fine art prints, as these can easily be signed afterwards, and I generally like to give the customer the option of having me sign it or not. Now, I am going to add that I personally would prefer to sign my prints. I’d like to think that my name will be carried with the print, and I’d also like to think that anyone that was willing to part with good money to own one of my prints, would also like it signed. Even on my Web site, where people can order prints, I have the signature as an option that can be turned off, but in practice, I don’t recall anyone ever actually ordering a print that didn’t want it signing. I guess with this in mind, and the fact that I personally would prefer to sign them, making this an option is more of a statement of modesty than anything else.

I probably should also let you know before we finish that the signature that I use to sign my prints is not my everyday signature. I’m sure if someone was to analyze this signature they’d say that the huge underlining was a display of over confidence or conceitedness. To be honest, that’s totally intentional. I think that the very act of putting artwork out there for viewing and more important for purchase requires confidence, and a certain amount of “look at me”. With that in mind, when I started to sign my prints, I created this new signature just for that purpose, and I think that’s perfectly OK.

There is also the question of whether to sign over the image, in the border, or even on the matte. Again, I vary what I do depending on the work. For canvas wraps, there is no border, so I find an area of the bottom right corner to sign. For fine art prints with a border, I generally sign in the border, but again, I make this an option when purchasing the print. If the client wants to frame right up to the edge of the printed area, I have no problem with signing over the photo itself. I have also signed the matte, but when I sign the matte, I also like to sign the back of the piece with a pencil, in case the matte is changed at any point in the future.

I would also like to add that I always include an insert with my prints, telling the user when and where the image was taken, and on what printer and paper it was printed, and with what inks. Whether this is totally necessary is up to you, but I think if nothing else it makes the presentation more professional. For framed pieces, these inserts will be dropped into the back of the frame, to save them getting lost, unless they are intentionally removed of course.


Podcast show-notes:

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


Audio

Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.


Podcast 220 : Martin Bailey Photography Fine Art Folios

Podcast 220 : Martin Bailey Photography Fine Art Folios

Some time ago I saw a Luminous Landscape Video Journal interview with Lenswork’s Brooks Jensen, in which he showed some work in a card folio, and I immediately fell in love with the look of these folios. I thought it was such a unique and practical way to package smallish prints to be viewed hand held, and even passed around. It took a lot of work and patience to actually get to the point where I have something to sell, and to be honest, there’s not much point in my going into much detail about the process, because the same resources are not going to be available to many of you that don’t live in Japan, but I’ll give you an outline of what I did, and then talk a little about the folios themselves.

If you are at a computer now, and want to understand better what I’m talking about, you might want to go over to www.mbpfolios.com, and take a quick look at the folios themselves, and to get the best idea of what they are, click on the Videos link, and take a look at the short video I have published to show you the inside of one of the folios.

Martin Bailey Photography Fine Art Folios

Martin Bailey Photography Fine Art Folios

If you think back to episodes 192 and 193 of this Podcast, I spoke about some fine art inkjet paper tests that I’d been doing, and I also released a PDF file with the results of those tests. What I was actually doing at that time was trying to decide the paper that I would use for these folios. Based on those tests I narrowed my choice down to a few papers and set about the task of sourcing the paper in bulk for the folios. Unfortunately, as I looked for the various components originally, including a matte board that I would stick to the back of the folio both for strength and so that you couldn’t see the back of the title photo stuck to the back of the window in the folder, I was not able to find everything in a common size.

I won’t bore you with the details, but after much though, I decided to use 8.5 x 11″ paper for the folios. I think also the paper I had chosen was not available in bulk in A4 and also with the boilerplate that I was going to put along the bottom of each print, I would lose some height, and so I wanted a slightly taller aspect than A4. I also found that I could order the papers I wanted in boxes of 50 from B&H in the States, which would help to keep costs down. Of course, I have to ship the paper to Japan, but the papers I wanted are just not available here. This is one area where we are pretty much all on a level playing field if you decided to do something similar to this yourself.

The folios needed to be die-pressed and de-bossed which I obviously can’t do myself, so the next thing I needed was a design to show my idea to the paper processing companies that I would approach. I designed my folio in Adobe Illustrator, bearing in mind that unlike Lenswork, I was not going to be able to make different folios for various purposes. I would need to use one folder for multiple folios, so I didn’t add anything in the folder design that would be folio specific. I just added my logo and Martin Bailey Photography to be de-bossed on the front and back of the folder and a window in which I would put a representative photo from the folio with the folio title. That way I could change the folio to work for just about any content that I want.

To house 8.5 x 11″ prints, the folder ended up being 482mm high by 554mm across. To check that the folder actually folder as planned, I printed it out on 13×19″ paper, which is much smaller than the actual folder, but it allowed me to fold and check the design. Once I got something that I was relatively happy with, I started to look for a company that would work with me on the die-pressing and de-bossing. This was probably the most difficult part of the whole project. I mailed and called a number of companies that looked as though they could help, but none of them had machinery large enough to die-press my folder.

I got in touch with our good friend Landon Michaelson in the US, and Landon was kind enough to put me in touch with a good company that did me a reason quote, but with me being in Japan, they were difficult to get hold of by phone, and while I was still trying to get hold of them, a company here in Japan that I’d reached out to replied to my mail. They took a few weeks, so I’d given up on them, but they told me straight away that they thought it looked like an interesting project and they’d love to help. I double checked that they could work to the sizes I required, and was delighted to hear that they could. It was one of those punch-the-air moments! Funnily enough, it’s the same company that makes the quick reference guide that ships with every Canon Camera around the world, so we hit it off pretty quickly. I visited their facility, about a four hour drive from Tokyo, and was impressed with their machinery and processes. In the following weeks they sent me various paper samples until we decided the paper that I’d use.

This same company ended up helping me to get the heavy tracing paper that goes between the prints and the introduction pages. They also put me in touch with a company to order the transparent plastic sleeves that each folio will be slipped into. They weren’t so hot on getting me matte boards for strength, so I ended up having those order made, cut to size at another company here in Japan. They also got me some pH neutral glue to stick the photo and matte board to the folder.

Things to note that we found most difficult were that because every component has to be acid free, pH Neutral, archival quality, we had to double check with every supplier that their materials met our standards. Another limiting factor that would hold people back from creating these folders is that to keep the price down, you have to order a lot of stuff. The paper that I used for the folder for example comes in 250 sheet lots. We can die-press 2 folio folders from each sheet, so this means that I have 500 folders to sell. The heavy tracing paper comes in lots large enough to not really make it worth making less than a thousand of these. The matte boards price started to make sense from 250, and as I don’t have a lot of space to put all this stuff, I had to make a trade of between space and cost for every component. Once I run out of matte boards, I can order another 250. If I sell 500 folios, I can get another 500 made about $350 cheaper, because now we already have the dies for the folder and for the de-bossed logos.

Flowerscapes Folio

Flowerscapes Folio

That reminds me, although originally all the die-pressing, the de-bossing of the lines for folding, and the logo de-bossing was going to be done in one press, the guy at the paper processing factory roped a friend at a nearby factory into the project to de-boss the logos with a special heated die process for an even cleaner and sharper finish, so the paper went through two processes before being shipped to me. You need to de-boss the lines to fold along by the way, or you don’t get clean folds. The card will crack and look horrible if you just fold it without a de-bossed line.

I should say, that if you decide to try to create these folders yourself, be prepared for a lot of work. I probably can’t help you with the process any more than what I’m relaying today, because how you go about this and the companies you work with will really depend on where you live. Brooks Jensen has just released a Folios Workshop DVD with instructions on how he makes his folios. I didn’t buy a copy as I’d finished mine by the time it was released, but everything Brooks does is top quality, so if you want to make something like this yourself, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of the Lenswork Folios Workshop DVD.

So, with the folder and all components to be manufactured in Japan on order, 10 boxes of Harman GLOSS FB Al paper arrived from B&H. I’d decided on the Harman GLOSS with its Baryta layer because it came out top in my fine art inkjet paper tests. I’d actually been very close to buying the Canon Platinum Pro paper, but eventually decided on the Harman because the Canon paper has Canon written on the back of the paper, which I don’t think it very cool for fine art prints, and also because B&H didn’t have enough stock. As the Harman paper winged its way over to Japan, I had continued to soft-proof my selected images with a box that I’d bought earlier to test with. It was this soft-proofing task that led to Episode 215 on soft-proofing recently.

During that process, I found that there were a couple of prints in the Flowerscapes folio image set that I could just not get to print as I wanted on the Harman paper. This isn’t a problem with the paper I should add, rather some prints just don’t suit some paper. So at this point, I decided to try the Flowescapes set on one of my favourite fine art matte papers, Hahnemühle Photo Rag. B&H have 50 sheet boxes of this Photo Rag, and I had some in Japan already to test with, and the Flowerscapes images looked beautiful on it, after a lot of soft-proofing I should add, so I ordered 5 boxes of this from B&H as well.

I finished my soft-proofing of all three folio sets as I waited for the components to arrive. The last thing to arrive is the packaging. I’ve ordered boxes made to fit from one to three of the folios, as I’ve released three folios in this first batch. The last thing to do was create a Web site to showcase and sell the folios, which I did last week, and that is the address that I gave you earlier, www.mbpfolios.com. Someone has registered the .com site, although they are not using it. Still, as I’m in Japan, I figured the .jp URL would be OK.

I’ve selected 12 images in the sets that I’ve called “The Colours of Japan”, “Season of White” and there are 10 images in the “Flowerscapes” set. The reason for the difference is basically the number of prints I can fit in the folio. The Hahnemühle paper is thicker than the Harman paper, so I can only fit 10 prints in the folder along with the introduction page.

I spent a lot of time selecting the images, as you can imagine. I really wanted these first three folios to be special, and represent some of my main areas of photography. Flowerscapes is a word that I use, and might have even coined, to describe flower scenes, though not close up photographs of flowers as such. They’re really segments of a large flower scene or landscape, hence, “Flowerscape”. I shoot a lot of this sort of image, so I made my selections based on a balanced selection of colours, types of flowers and season. This set is probably where my use of shallow depth-of-field is most prominent, and was the main reason why I bought the 300mm F2.8 lens, so that I could edit these scenes out of a large landscape and still get that shallow depth-of-field.

Flowerscapes Folio Prints

Flowerscapes Folio Prints

One of the other things I pay a lot of attention to is vivid or fresh colours, so I chose my second folio of image to represent the Colours that I find in the natural world around Japan, hence “The Colours of Japan”. In this set I have leaves from Spring and Autumn, as well as the frail pink cherry blossoms, and lush green of the Oirase mountain stream. I also included the bright orange-red persimmons covered in snow, and the blue twilight waterfall with fresh spring maple leaves in front. There are bright reds, shocking pinks and beautiful yellows in this 12 image set.

The Colours of Japan Folio Prints

The Colours of Japan Folio Prints

The last set is the “Season of White” folio. This was the most difficult folio to select images for. I wanted to represent my work from Hokkaido in some way, but as I started to sort through my images, I found myself with a set of Eagle shots, a set of Red-Crowned crane shots, a set of Hokkaido Landscapes and Winter Trees. The result was more like a reference book than a fine art folio, so I decided to select images that best represent my memories and feelings of what it’s like to be in Hokkaido. I selected images from the frosty river, with the cranes and the Heaven on Earth landscape from the Tokachi mountain range. The Cranes appear often, but when shooting the cranes you’ll often see a fox. The Ezo Deer in the harsh winter are simply beautiful, as are the Whooper Swans, Steller’s Sea eagles and White-Tailed eagles. Then of course, there’s the winter tree in the driving snow storm and I had to include a shot from a few years ago where I panned with some cranes in the last light of the day as they flew to roost. All of these things really engraved in my mind when I think of Hokkaido, so I chose to tell a story with this set, rather than give a sterile reference set of images.

Season of White Folio Prints

Season of White Folio Prints

The photos of the prints here give you an idea, but as I said there’s the video on my folios site, and I take you inside the Flowerscapes folio to really get a feel for what they are like. I also put together a small gallery of all of the images from each set. Here you can best see that each print also has a boilerplate, with the title of the image and the date and location that it was shot, as well as the title of the folio that it is included in.

I included the Introduction page and a photo of the front of the folios in each gallery too. I didn’t include an Image List in the Flowerscapes folio, as I didn’t think it needs it, but the Season of White folio and The Colours of Japan folio also contain an Image List, with captions for each image in the set. The introduction page serves a second purpose, which is that of a colophon, or record of the Edition. If I make any minor changes to the folios I’ll increase the edition number. I am also numbering, dating and signing this page with an archival pen. The number is the copy number, so when you buy one of these folios, you’ll know how many were made before it. The date is the date that I made the prints for that particular folio, and then I sign it at the bottom right.

The folios are I think reasonably priced at $285 each, which is just $23.75 a print for the Harman paper prints, and $28.50 for the Hahnemühle Photo Rag prints. I’ve also knocked $120 off the set of three for a limited period, so the three folio set is for sale at $735. If you are interested, even just to take a look at what I’ve put together, please do take a look at the www.mbpfolios.com Web site.

Please tell your friends too. I believe the price I’ve set will make these accessible, and when you hold the folio in your hand, and feel the quality of the folder and of course handle and delve into the quality prints inside, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a totally different experience to looking at the images on a computer screen.

Thanks for listening/reading today. As creative people, I think it’s great to be able to take that creative process past the capture of the photograph, and even passed the printing, to create something like these folios. It’s been an education figuring out how to do this, and working with all the people that I’ve had to, to make it happen. This probably hasn’t been that useful as such, but I hope you’ve enjoyed going through the process with me.


Podcast show-notes:

MBP Fine Art Folios: http://www.mbpfolios.com

WebSpy Soho icon vote page: http://www.webspy.com/soho


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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 martinbaileyphotography.com 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
Music from Music Alley: www.musicalley.com/


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