Printing the Antarctic images – lessons learned

I rarely print my photographs. When I do it is typically small postcard size shots for family distribution only. Some of the Antarctic shots however I wanted to test in large format. So this morning Mrs. H and I toddled off to Canon’s Image Centre with 4 files to be printed.

I decided that if a job is worth doing its worth doing well so I opted for A3 size on museum (archival) quality paper. A snip at HK$100 each.

The first lesson was a cruel one. Before you print your images CHECK FOR SENSOR SPOTS. THEN CHECK AGAIN. Yes, the first one had two tiny spots in the lower left hand corner. Mrs. H sighed and said “nobody will see them”. Irrelevant. I know they are there and so the file has been fixed and it will be reprinted. Sometime. This was a black and white shot and otherwise I was delighted with it. Remember this one?


The next one looked pretty good too but the bird had some tiny white specks on it. They looked like dust marks. They are not. They are on the original image file and at 100% they are clearly specks of ice or snow. Nevertheless it will look aesthetically much better if touched out and so they will be – and the file will be reprinted. Remember this one?


The shag on the ice was also a challenge when it came to choosing between the gorgeous archival paper and a strong glossy finish. The archival paper produces a result that looks like a watercolour painting. The glossy paper is much more in your face. One has a very elegant border. The other is borderless. We prefer the watercolour look but others may like the glossy. Indeed this issue arises on all the colour images and we have decided to stay with our original choice.

Next the King Penguin. Also a clean file but at A3 size some of the flecks on the feathers look (again) like dust. So, touch them up and they will disappear. By this stage the lesson is fairly obvious – look not just for sensor spots, which are ugly, but for things which are genuine but distract. If this sounds like image manipulation well I beg to differ. And these are for my own consumption only so I don’t really care. Remember this? If you do you are hallucinating as I don’t think I’ve posted it before. Or maybe it is me who is suffering from amnesia.


And finally, the piece de resistance – and abject failure. The lovely chinny with his flippers stretched wide. Well one flipper had motion blur. Small but visible. I decided it was acceptable. The other flipper was blurred too much. They don’t call him Whirling Chinny for nothing. And I didn’t realise on the screen just how bad it would look at A3 size. So this was HK$100 down the drain. It will not be redone. I am looking for a Plan B on the chinny front.


Just look at that right flipper. Urgh.

So my other lesson is have small cheap prints done first so you can see the flaws before you go archival.

For all the annoying problems, all self-inflicted, it was a truly valuable learning experience. I certainly want to print more of the black and white images. They look fabulous on top quality paper. Sadly Canon doesn’t do paper in square format so if you produce a square crop as I did for KP, you have to choose how to use the available A3 paper. Not a disaster as it will be topped and tailed for framing but something to think about when processing.

I hope others will learn from my schoolboy errors. Look before you print.

16 thoughts on “Printing the Antarctic images – lessons learned

  1. I like both the B&W and the “Shag on the Ice” especially….. but I know what you mean about those sensor spots. Still, out here in interweb-land, we’d never have known !

  2. The square format is indeed printer-unfriendly. Your shots are gorgeous online, i can’t begin to imagine how stunning they must be in hard copy… Now i want to print my pictures, too.

    Btw: one HK dollar will buy exactly one Guatemalan Quetzal. The coin, not the bird…

  3. Great photos Andrew. Since I can’t see squat (need new glasses) I see no spots, splotches, etc. They all look good to me. But gee that is sme expensive printing there. You are a perfectionist and I can niot find fault with that. The photo that I favor the most is the close up of the penguiin in color. But these are all so good. The canon printing process sounds expensive.

    • Yvonne, there are much cheaper options but the paper quality is superb and at A3you use a lot! I could buy a printer but they are very expensive and the inks always need refilling. And if Canon makes a mistake (they did twice today) they bear the cost, not me. So yes, expensive but I can’t justify the outlay to do my own.

  4. I had a photo of Whitby harbour blown up years ago, no idea why, a bit like KG, I just liked it. Not sure what has happened to it, must resurrect it to join the Yorkshire Gallery.

    I do colour printing for cards (very occasionally) and mostly colour photographic evidence of something I wish to prove/contest.

    I was pleased to print off an A4 photo for my neighbours of their grandson at our local romeria (link was on last art for art’s sake post – at the bottom – it was no 1, except it didn’t say that, just that it wasn’t art for art 2) – friend kindly photoshopped it for me to get rid of the detritus. Interestingly I tried to print off some postcard size ones and they were terrible, but the bigger pic worked fine. Of course, once the grandparents had their copy, the mother wanted one too …..

    They weren’t looking for world class photos just a memorable shot of their grandson. In fact I’d been planning to give them a print as a surprise but they asked me immediately they’d seen me taking the pix and offered to pay me for the print 😦

    I would always go for matt over gloss, but I’m not really a glossy person.

    I do think the KP is truly gorgeous, that splash of yellow just so lifts it. And the cute position of the head of course. I love Chinny too, but I reckon s/he would need a dark border to make it work on the wall. On the blog posts, the imperfections are invisible. So that’s why we all think you take wonderful photos.

    Did you get 10/10?

    • Bah. The original AFAS I can find but the Romeria link is dead and I see no pic of any grandson. Tant pis. Somewhere I have a very old print of Caerphilly Castle, possibly taken by my father. I am not sure. I ought to have that framed.

      The test went well but they threw me a curve ball right at the end. I will know on Monday how well I did. I think the chaps were somewhat surprised that after 16 months of retirement my little grey cells were still ticking over. As far as I can recall I didn’t dribble, stutter, utter profanities or otherwise embarrass myself. Of course it may simply be that the brain is not sufficiently engaged to realise that I am doing so but I think I groped my way manfully to the end of the obstacle course.

      The internet is wonderful. It can turn even me into a provider of wonderful photos….. but sooner or later I knew I was going to get found out. Bummer.

      • Thank you for pointing out that the link was dead, but I should like to say that it was in fact restin’. Possibly stunned even. But unlike the famous Norwegian Blue, I have in fact revived it. It was in a way irrelevant, as the pictures in question were the young man on the horse in the picture below. When I said grandson, I did not mean a ghastly squawking parrot baby, which is a species I have never photographed in my life. Aitor is nearly 21. I must have added the link to save explaining what a romería was, and to show the other pix if people hadn’t seen them. Anyway, in the shopped version of Grandson On A Horse (with the flag of Andalucía) you can see the cable and street lamps have been removed and the background has been slightly blurred. Much better for a family photo portrait-type job.

        On AFAS (2) – don’t know if you looked at that – there is an old sepia photo which I really like. The Caerphilly one would be good. To hang on your glass walls. My partner likes Caerphilly cheese.

        After my lengthy period of non-paid-for employment I am probably totally past my fecha de caducidad. And at the interviews for jobs I have had, the prospective employers did not perform at all well.

        As for the internet – it is indeed wonderful, but there is nothing to beat a good old-fashioned print. Faults and all 😉 I think you should auction your cast-offs. I want to bid for King Yellow. Damn, I have a story about penguin prints and Antarctica but this comment is long enough.

      • PS I’ve just mentioned Caerphilly which he claims is near Newport, so I asked why we hadn’t been. ‘Well, I’ve got photos with Linda (previous fiancé)’ ‘Huh, my names roughseas not Linda.’ ‘Oh well, maybe we went to Raglan together then.’ ‘No we didn’t that was Linda as well.’ First thing in the morning and he’s talking about a girlfriend from 30 or more years ago! And those photos certainly won’t be going on the walls, castles or not.

      • Good grief. A Welshman who does not know his geography. Caerphilly is not near Newport. Newport is near Caerphilly. I think it was Copernicus or maybe Galileo who discovered that the universe starts at Cardiff Arms Park (GPS has now moved this to the National Stadium, Cardiff) and all points radiate from here. Ergo Caerphilly comes before Newport. As they say on the radio, Don’t be silly, shop in Caerphilly. Or the alternative version for our family’s home village, Don’t be a haddock, shop in Llanbradach.

        I apologise if the theme caused marital discord. An ex-colleague of mine revealed once that her husband, with whom she has 3 children, always introduces her as “my current wife”. Neither of them has been married before (or since) and she takes it in good part but it seems a tad unnecessary to me. Perhaps you could start referring to the Welshman as ‘my current husband’?

      • You are quite perceptive. His geography is not what I would wish for. Apart from the fact that he is hopeless at giving directions, of the variety that even Spaniards would be proud of – down there, up there and it’s just a bit past, sort of thing, complete with totally inaccurate arm gesticulations – he also is not aware that Yorkshire is the centre of the universe. It seems you are not aware of this fact either. However, you being Welsh and unaware, I will let it go this one time.

        I am however, annoyed that we have just had to spend at least five minutes (felt like five hours) gazing at a map of south Wales and muttering strange names in a silly accent, surrounded by the Heads of the Valleys Road.

        Are you sure you don’t know my partner’s father’s family from Trethomas?

        He added, ‘Don’t be a fool, play for Pontypool…’

        We don’t need an excuse for marital discord. Just nice to blame someone else occasionally. Gets a trifle boring to keep blaming ourselves when we can find a scapegoat. Or possibly a scapesheep from Wales.

        My father introduced me once as ‘my son-in-law’s wife.’ That seriously takes the biscuit. If I hadn’t been feminist before, that would have done it for me. Anyway, I am not into marital status. The fact that we are married is of no relevance to anyone apart from the tax office and other legal entities from whom we gain benefits from said legally-recognised relationship.

        However once is sufficient, I’m not really into repetitive marriage syndrome.

      • Ah! The Heads of the Valleys Road. Happy memories of trips to Ebbw Vale.

        Must get an atlas and look up Yorkshire. Is it near Abertridwr??

      • Abert Rider. Although I am informed it is not pronounced quite like that. Five acres for ten/twenty grand. A three-bed terraced prop for 75 grand. Looked like a reposseions although had been rather aborted I have to say. May go back to the UK yet at those prices.

        Anyway, is Abert Rider near Ossett?

  5. Printing is an art form in itself, Andrew, but these are worth continuing to pursue–they are all top notch images. My favorite is the second–I really wish it were mine. 🙂

    I know what you mean about not being able to ignore “imperfections” in an image–my wife has told me many times that I am the only one who would notice . EXACTLY!! I notice and it drives me nutty. Yes, they have to be perfect…

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