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.