Their German Etching printing was better than what I have achieved, with the colours being much closer to those I see on my screen (reduced gamut aside). I sent 2 images to be printed: the Mini with the man over the hill, and McDo. The grass on the Mini shot had been giving me all sorts of problems, with the green and the brown coming out all sorts of wrong shades, the shadow areas really blocking up, and the side of the Mini being a completely flat colour. What came back was subdued on the side of the car, but perfectly acceptable, especially when compared to my attempts. The grass was much more natural looking too. The McDo image was lacking in a little of the important contrast, something that I’d expected, but some of the detail was really crisp and I was quietly impressed. This wasn’t the surprise.
The surprise was that the matte C-prints aren’t matte at all. Well, not what I’d call matte - more of a lustre. That said, I think I prefer them, but they don’t look too far from what my printer can achieve on lustre paper, so I might just give it another go with what I’ve got, picking out a better lustre paper perhaps, and printing up to A3-ish dimensions, which is what I’d like to do for assessment.
I also order a print sample pack from The Print Space. The 10 papers each have a different image, which makes a comparison difficult. That said, which image would you choose across all 10 papers? Those they’d used all suited the media they were printed on: high gloss for a car photo, an urban landscape for a metallic paper (it might sound odd, but it worked) and various portraits, landscapes, etc. across the others. They looked good...
Well, there’s gathering all the formal written material together and presenting it in a way I’m happy with. I working on putting together a number of printed books so that it harmonises with the Into the Valley book - they’ll all be similar in size and presentation. There will be a book with the five assignments, another with the essay and a fourth with my ruminations on the course as a whole, a more considered reflective commentary than my log books if you like. Part of this has included getting together the permissions to use images by other artists, and this is quite an experience. Some are fine about it, and have just said go ahead (Martin Parr, for example), others are still to get back to me. A couple of the images I’m having to formally licence, and from places as far afield as Japan which introduces its own set of complications. On the whole though, once people know it’s for academic purposes, they’re fine with it. For those that I’m unable to track down, I’ll use them under an academic fair use policy, providing as much information as I can (where sourced, etc.).
Why go to all this trouble? Well, I’d expect it if someone wanted to use my photographs, so it’s the correct thing to do.
So, these 3 books are taking a while to pull together because of the credits and because of the physical task of laying everything out in a manner that I’m happy with and is also harmonious with the other works. It would be self-defeating to go at it half-cocked at this stage.
The other thing I’ve been looking at is the printing of the images. I’ve ordered a sample pack from The Print Space, which includes sample images printed using their various papers/methods. I’ve also ordered 4 prints, 2 each of 2 different photographs - a matte c-print and an inkjet print on German etching paper. The inkjet is more expensive, but will I be able to tell? Also, will the results be much better than what I have produced using my Canon printer? The other thing I have done is to get in touch with Calumet as I wanted a printer demonstration of the various A3 printer models they sell. Unfortunately they don’t have a demo model of the new Canon Pro 1, but they’ve agreed to send a file off to Canon for them to print and return. I’ll then be able to compare the printing of the Pro1, my Pro9500 and the Epson R3000 or whatever it is they have to hand. With this selection of prints to hand, I’ll be able to make a decision on where to get my printing done, and I’ll be sure to post my thoughts here.
But what will I be printing? The intention was always to have the finished object as a book, but this alone does not equate to half of my degree grade, or so it feels. I’m therefore planning on a number of A3-ish prints from the book (maybe all of them) and supplemented by a greater collection of smaller (6x4 maybe) prints from the whole portfolio. I’ll have to be careful with this though as it might introduce a degree of dislocation or disjointedness with the overall package.
So - plan for assessment - 4 printed books, up to 24 A3 prints, a number of smaller prints and 3 journals. This blog will also be here until after the assessment. Anything else?
There was a concern that a couple of the images were a little dark in the shadow areas, but they’re pretty close to the digital files, perhaps a little compressed in there because of the matte paper. It’s my usual style to be a little dark though, but even so, I might give it a tweak and lift them a little. One thing is for certain, the Blurb printing has a greater gamut than the printing I’d been achieving on my Canon Pro9500 on matte paper, even with custom and refined profiles created with ColorMunki.
Actually having the book in hand feels good - I’ve done other Blurb (and similar) creations before, but this one feels more considered, more like I’ve designed it and thought the options through, rather than just dropping images in to their pre-formatted layouts. It’s certainly feeling more personal to me, and more like the intended finished article than anything similar I’ve done. Yes, as an object I do like it, from the layout all the way through to the feel of the paper. It’s interesting to see how it has developed from one of my early mock-ups too.
There’s a couple of options left to me to finish it the way I want to, but I’ll play with those options in the coming weeks. Some of this will depend on the other 3 books I plan to be producing for the submission (containing the assignments and various pieces of writing), as I want them to tie together as a finished whole.
The other thing left for me to sort out is the actual prints I’ll be supplying. I’m looking at my options which at the moment appear to be two-fold, see if I can find a better printer to get the results I want, or use a bureau. I plan to drop into Calumet in the next couple of weeks to get them to do a test print with their various A3 printers, see which one behaves the best. If they have a printer that does what I want, well I guess I might just buy that and do the printing myself. Of course, there is a chance that their in-store printers are set up in a certain way, but if I provide a standard file, I can see what they do to it to get it to print the result.
A bureau is the other option, and one I’m fluctuating hot and cold on. Looking around at the various bureaus I’ve seen advertised, not all do a matte option, and for A3-ish size prints I’d be looking at about £300, not including any test prints I might choose to have done, or any reprints that might be necessary, for whatever reason. Some of the photographs were taken with cameras with lower resolution, so I’m not even sure how big they will blow up, although I can test this before hand. It all stacks up, but I guess it’s the price you have to pay…
First thing to do is sort my log book, which was incredibly bloated with everything I’d put in it. So I’ve spread it out over three volumes - I’ve not taken anything out of it, that would seem pointless because it’s just a log of things I’ve spotted that I found interesting, gallery visits, stuff like that. It’s not fine-tuned to what I was doing with YoP, although bits are, but it’s all relevant in one way or another.
Anyway, I also took the opportunity to add some of my own photos to the covers - they look alright if you ask me...
“Life doesn’t know what it will be until it notices what it has become.” (attributed to Margaret Wheatley)
So, what’s the point in adding it here? Well, I thought it pretty much summed up what has happened with the portfolio - I thought it would be one thing, but it has ended up being whatever it is, which is different.
Anyway - off to see the Ballen expo in Manchester in a few hours, so I’d best be getting ready.
Rather than add another entry, I thought I’d append this one with another quote. Actually, it’s more of a general statement from Chip Kidd from a short video on the Blurb blog. He says something along the lines that a picture and a explanatory caption is treating the viewer as a moron. Ok, he was talking about book cover design, but the same can be said of images, depending on their purpose.
It was a really interesting video, well worth a look, and it can be found here.