Category Archives: Photo Printing

Mounting Digital Photos On Acrylic

My friend Edward and I saw the Joel Meyerowitz show of his large ground zero images at The Tremaine Gallery in Lakeville, Connecticut and we were both impressed by the way the images were mounted and hung. The above video shows the process.

This isn’t something I want to do with my own images; I prefer traditional matting and framing and enjoy the process of doing it myself, but this mounting system was perfect for the large scale ground zero images in this show.

[via Zapong]

Why do we put up with poor design?

I’m becoming extremely intolerant of poor design and it amazes me that so many people tolerate it.

Sometimes the end justifies the means: putting up with poor design might be justified because the product does something well in the end and its worth putting up with an unpleasant user experience to get there. My fuse for this sort of stuff is getting shorter it seems and I’m guessing that a piece of this is that I collect and use things that are very well designed and a joy to use so when things are poorly designed that unpleasant experience stands out.

One of the important issues at play here is that many people don’t know where their own lack of knowledge (they think “stupidity”) ends and poor design begins so they are reluctant to call it out for fear it’s just them being less than smart. This is no doubt one of the main reasons people put up with poor design: they think it’s them, not the product. Another reason is: if everyone else loves product x and I find it less than wonderful, maybe the reason is me. Put these two together and it’s a recipe for the perpetuation of bad design.

The Fuji FinePix X100 camera is an example of this: Beautiful camera, takes excellent pictures but the firmware/menu system is so poorly designed and buggy that it undermines the whole experience of using the camera. I’d have attempted to buy this camera had I found the menu system well thought out. Many are acknowledging the poor menu system but tolerate it because the camera makes excellent images. I get this but my ability to do that is diminishing over time.

Our Sony HD TV is another example of it. The picture quality is so amazingly good I love the TV but god help you if you need to get into its menu system to do something like attempt to turn off the startup sound. Why can’t the menu system be as beautiful as the picture? It’s like this piece of the design was a last minute afterthought. I still haven’t figured out how to turn the annoying startup sound off after a year with the TV.

My latest experience with this and the reason for this post is my experience yesterday attempting to update the printer drivers for my relatively new Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer. I knew I’d bump into some upgrade issues when I upgraded to Lion and almost all of my applications and utilities have handled this beautifully with no hassle at all. If you missed the above linked to post on the new printer, the end of it discusses problems I had with Epson’s installation process: their use of the now ancient Installer Vice corrupted my already installed profiles.

So, the other day I tried to print with the 3880 from Lightroom now running under Lion and nothing happened. No problem, I attempted to use the Print/Fax system preference pane to look for a new version of the driver but non was found (my HP laser printer updated itself in 10 seconds this way).

When I went to the Epson support site looking for help with this I found a confusing list of updates.

Note: the only mention of Lion is in the sidebar under News and Alerts. If you follow that link you get this:

Mac OS X 10.6 drivers are compatible with Mac OS X 10.7

Well, I already had those drivers installed so this isn’t true and I couldn’t print. But, what Epson failed to mention is that there was a new version of those drivers without a new number up at their site. Amazingly stupid. They have the new number listed on the download page (v.6.60) but under it they say the driver is compatible with: “Macintosh OS X (v10.4.11 – v10.6.x).” Why the hell didn’t they give the driver the version number 7 is beyond me and why not list OS X v.7 as the end point of the range?

Sigh.

I downloaded the update and of course it installed with Installer Vice. Given that it was just the driver with no profiles I chanced using Vice again and amazingly it worked.

But, my god, how and why do people put up with this? They put up with it either because the ends justify the means or because they don’t know any different: they don’t have enough experience with well designed products to know one when they see one.

I have the very same issues with another product a Dymo LabelWriter Printer. The printer is amazingly useful and I can’t live without it, but the software that runs it is crap. I put up with it because my handwriting is terrible and I don’t want to hand address envelopes but my god, each time I update this awful software it’s like pulling wisdom teeth. How and why do people put up with this?

No doubt there are personal learning and operating style preferences at play here: some people find one set of experiences easy, intuitive, no problem while another set of people might find those very same things hard, unintuitive and impossible. But, I do believe that those of us who recognize good and less than good design need to vote with our wallets and simply not buy stuff that doesn’t work well. At the very least we should give detailed feedback to the likes of Epson and Dymo so they know what they’re doing wrong.

Rant off.

Packing tape on Epson 3880

Tape from a new Epson 3880

I bought a new printer and unpacking it is quite incredible.

I figured it was about time I bought a better fine art printer for larger prints (up to 17″ wide) with pigment inks. I have a show coming up and I’m starting to print, frame, and put it together so before I got too far into it I figured I’d bump up the printing. Stay tuned for my take on this printer vs. my old workhorse Canon Pixma Pro 9000 MK 11 (a nice dye ink printer).

CBS Legal Department Sends Cease and Desist to 48 HR Magazine

CBS Legal Department Sends Cease and Desist to 48 HR Magazine

Totally stupid. Give me a ###ing break CBS.

It’s a great magazine. I bought a copy right away and it’s well designed (I disagree with Carr that the layouts are “somewhat rudimentary”): the design reminds me of The Whole Earth Catalog which was a lot of fun to read. 48 Hrs, is also a lot of fun to read and I highly recommend ordering a copy before it gets taken down or the name gets changed.

48HR: Hustle at MagCloud.

Wabi Sabi, Issue 1

Wabi SabiMy friends Mamen Saura, Gary Sharp and I have put together a photo magazine of our work using MagCloud, a new publishing service. The process has been fantastic and I’m sure we’ll not only continue this magazine but we’ll also be using MagCloud for other things as well.

Here’s the magazine: Wabi Sabi, Issue 1. Feel free to browse, follow and if you like it, buy it online.

Here’s more on how MagCloud works.

We used Apple’s Pages application to do the page layout and create the PDF that we sent up to MagCloud. They allow instant proofing and then use their HP Indigo printers to print magazines on demand. No more printing 1000 magazines to save money, anyone can order a single issue of this or any other MagCoud magazine at any time, everything is printed on demand.

I’ve got a pile of over 20 magazines by a variety of both amateur and professional publishers, all using the MagCloud publishing service. Some of them are great, some are less than great but all are interesting and all are easy to browse online to see what one is getting.

The printing cost is .20 a page which for our 36 page magazine is $7.20. We marked the magazine up $2.80 to make it an even $10. Shipping cost for first class USPS is $1.40 which is excellent. The magazine comes wrapped in plastic in perfect condition.

The great thing about this process is, the author/publisher can make changes to the issue at any time. If you decide one of the images is too dark or light, adjust the image in your photo editor, export a copy, drag it into Pages, make a new PDF and upload it replacing what was there. This is all transparent to buyers. We’ve made numerous proofs in the process of working on this first issue.

A few tips for those interested in trying this service:
It seems the printing is consistently on the dark side so you should definitely order a proof before making your magazine public (if you even plan to make it public). We went through two proofs lightening various images each time until we felt we had it right. MagCloud is still in beta and they say they will have a printing profile author/publishers can download and install to soft proof before uploading but until then, be aware.

MagCloud has templates you can download at no cost, here they are. These templates are a starting point and will take some adjustment in the proofing process to get right. Just be patient, they’re close to perfect as they are.

I would be very interested in hearing from you if you’ve tried this service or have questions about our first use of it. And, if you’ve got questions about our magazine please feel free to ask.

Show announcement postcards

Show announcement postcards

Warren, Connecticut. I printed a thousand (1000) post cards for my friend Joy Brown to announce the opening of one of her shows a few years ago.

Printed on Red River Polar Matte card stock on a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 printer.

I filled my office, our bedroom and other rooms with flat surfaces with these cards for drying overnight and it took three days to get them all printed and dried.

MagCloud, solution in search of a problem?

Do-It-Yourself Magazines, Cheaply Slick

Use any page layout software, mark up a multi-page magazine, save it to PDF, upload to MagCloud and they’ll print a full color magazine for you at .20 per page.

Making a Magazine with MagCloud

To me, the great thing about this service isn’t this part of the process, although it’s pretty darned good, it’s the fact that you only have to make one at a time to get that pricing. And, you can make the magazine available for others to buy online through MagCloud. So, this is a great process coupled with print on demand.

I have yet to use it but it’s on my list for sure and I’ve bought many publications through them to see what the printing looks like. It’s quite good. Is it good enough for a photographic portfolio? I’m not sure but it might be if you use trial and error to get your processing just right for the printing process.

The barrier for casual users or experimenters is desktop publishing or layout: one has to actually put together the document and that takes some time. In this world of instant gratification and one click web sites the time and focus necessary to put a decent document together may be a bit of a hurdle for some. This is why the NY times used the phrase “solution in search of a problem” to describe MagCloud. I think it’s right on the money for anyone who is willing to put a document together but will enough people do this to make it profitable?

I found out about MagCloud through Derek Powazek who uses it to publish his magazine/book Fray.

Michael Reichmann Interviews Henry Wilhelm

Michael Reichmann Interviews Henry Wilhelm

In the late Summer of 2008 I interviewed Henry Wilhelm, the world’s preeminent authority on print permanence and the founder of Wilhelm Imaging Research. This interview was conducted on behalf of Epson, to be used as part of their 2008/2009 Epson Print Academy. The clip used by Epson was edited down to 14 minutes for use in The Print Academy.

Because the complete interview contains so much more fascinating and valuable information about current printing technology and materials than can be contained in 14 minutes, with the agreement of Epson we have put together a comprehensive and complete version of this important interview. This runs slightly more than one hour, at some 68 minutes.

Wilhelm is one of the foremost authorities on print and ink longevity and lightfastness. His web site: Wilhelm Imaging Research is the place to go to compare printers, inks, and papers as to their archival qualities.

This is a very technical interview so be prepared for lots of jargon and tech talk. I found it very useful.

[via Dale Allyn]

Save Polaroid

Save Polaroid

On February 8, 2008, Polaroid Corporation announced that it will discontinue production of all instant film. This site will document the aftermath of this announcement and will serve as a home-base for the effort to convince another company to begin producing the cherished technology that Polaroid has so carelessly abandoned.

This site is not about saving Polaroid, the company, rather the remarkable invention of Edwin Land, the instant film that made Polaroid a household name.

[via .leah]