Ilford has relaunched their Galerie brand of inkjet papers, with one segment dubbed their “Prestige” brand. This is a first hands-on test of their Galerie Prestige Smooth High Gloss 215 gsm, based on pre-launch samples I was supplied.
In olden times printing papers were classed by weight, support (RC or fiber) grade (or VC, for variable contrast) and surface, and we’re beginning to see those classifications emerge again in the inkjet paper world, albeit in a different way than silver papers but nonetheless by weight and surface and support. If I were to classify this new Ilford Smooth High Gloss I’d call it a single weight, RC, and high gloss (Super F) "material", leaving grade aside of course as the contrast in digital is more determined by processing than paper grade.
Alien Skin’s Snap Art 3 ($199, or $99 for an upgrade from previous versions) is the latest manifestation of image-altering software that works atop the architecture of Photoshop and Lightroom, that is, a plug-in accessible through the Filters menu in Photoshop and for Lightroom as an external editor.
To launch Snap Art from an image in Lightroom you first select the image (or multiple images for batch processing), and select Photo>Edit In>Snap Art 3. You can also right click on the image and select Edit In>Snap Art 3. When Lightroom asks you how to edit the photo, the company recommends you choose “Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments.” This will tell Lightroom to make a copy of the image for Snap Art. You can also check and uncheck the Stack command, depending on how you want to see the image in the Library—choose Stack and you can easily unstack the image later, or just have it sit side by side in the normal Library (unstacked) view.
While many cameras today have extensive on-board image processing, and offer numerous special effects and “retouch” functions, you are in fact relying on someone else’s opinion of how your images should look when you avail yourself of them. At Shutterbug we emphasize quality imaging, and part of attaining quality is taking control of your own images by getting involved in how they look and “feel” by taking them in hand and doing your own processing work.
Wacom recently introduced their new line of Bamboo tablets, and we thought we’d revisit the use of stylus and tablet tools to give it a try. For our test we worked with the Bamboo Capture, described by the company as most apt for enthusiast digital photographers, although there are three intros in this new line.
Having worked with numerous types and brands of “metallic” surface papers I have some expectations as to what they can deliver. Metallic is a bit of a misnomer as these papers have a glossy surface on a paper (here acid-free) base with an opalescent sheen diffused throughout the emulsion coating. This gives a spark and edge to a print that glossy shares, but there is an extra kick in the paper surface that works quite well with some images, and not so well with others. It is a particular choice, one that should be part of your printing arsenal but hardly dominated by it.
I generally feel it is best to ignore marketing copy, but sometimes it’s fun to see how folks spin their yarn. Moab’s has always been somewhat transcendent, here telling us that the surface is “reminiscent of the ultra-smooth and slick sandstone surface of the famous bike trail that loops through the desert plains of Moab…” Well, never having done the loop that may well be so, but if so the bike’s tires better have crampons, since this surface is quite slick. What is more to the point is that the copy makes a more straightforward claim that “black-and-white images shine on this new paper producing deep blacks and ultra-bright highlights.” That, and other matters, was the subject of my printing tests.
Think of the image you capture with a digital camera as a digital negative and that you are a master printer who can take that negative and make as good a print as you have ever seen in a gallery and you begin to understand the potential of each shot. The expectation that you can do something more with an image can be built into every type of lighting condition, contrast and exposure problem you might face. It is not that you can “fix it” in software, it is that you should think beyond the exposure to what can be done to the image later, right at the moment you make the photograph. This approach can open you up to many other possibilities and make you take chances when you work; it can also raise expectations of what you have obtained beyond what you see on the playback right after the shot.
Here are some suggestions for self-assignments that can aid you in getting a good handle on mastering your camera. Give each technique a full day then review the images, along with the EXIF data. As you complete these self-assignments you’ll start to make great photos every time you pick up the camera.
One of our feature stories this month, Jason Schneider’s “The Shape of (Digital) Things to Come,” got me thinking about just what might be ahead in the ever-changing world of photography. In the past few years we’ve seen pretty much variations on the theme, with every feature manufacturers can think of being added to digital cameras. We’ve seen GPS, more in-camera processing options, in-camera HDR and tone curve control, and of course the update of virtually every camera line to incorporate HD video. All of this is to the good, but only if it gets you where you need to go.
There are three main elements in depth of field—focal length, aperture, and distance to subject—and depth of field is a very important part of a 2D photograph. It’s how we judge scale (or are fooled by it), how we note the importance of certain subjects within the frame, and how we define content and context in the scene. With these three controls, and using various points of view, it seems we have infinite variations to choose from, and that’s part of the creative play of photography. Now you can add a fourth element to the mix—tilts that range from mild to extreme and that create “slices” of sharpness within the frame. The tool that helps us create that effect is the latest optic from Lensbaby, which they dub the Edge 80.
What qualifies a digital inkjet printing paper as “fine art?” To begin, it should be able to reproduce a wide range of tonal values and colors that satisfy the photographer. It should be “archival”, meaning that there should be no contaminants or even optical brighteners that could affect the print stability long term. And perhaps most important is that it should have that “look,” sometimes described as emulating a well-made darkroom print.