New Exhibition at Bank Square Coffee House

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I have a new exhibition at Bank Square Coffee House in my hometown of Beacon, NY, and it will be on display until the beginning of January 2016. It consists of 11 large prints sized at 24” x 32” and mounted on gatorfoam board. Because there’s no glass on the prints, it gives them a depth and richness that I love, and it’s my favorite way of displaying my work when I don’t intend to sell the actual pieces-I take custom orders for anyone that is interested in buying.

There’s something special about holding a print in your hands that makes it feel organic and natural. That’s the same effect I want to achieve on the wall, and I think it works great.

Paper Selection

I printed most of the images on Canson Infinity Printmaking Rag (formerly known as BFK Rives.) I also printed a few on Canson Platine Fibre Rag for the extra dmax it provides. (Dmax is a measure of black density, which affects contrast.)

My long time favorite matte paper has been Rag Photographique. While I still love its smoothness and finish, I’ve been experimenting with Printmaking Rag and have come to appreciate its subtle surface texture.

It has a beautifully textured surface that is delicate, yet retains detail and contrast really well. It’s one of those things that is much easier to see and feel than describe in words. And when you feel the paper, it really projects that beautiful fine art aesthetic that I love about making prints in general. It lets you convey more that the sum of the pixels in the file; it brings the image to life.

Yes I’m a geek about fine art papers, but it’s the single most enjoyable part of printing for me. It makes me feel like a traditional craftsman, working with my hands, with physical materials. After spending so much time in the field looking and feeling nature, it’s nice to continue that in the studio and not let my photography become something I or others only experience on a computer screen.

Gatorfoam Mounting

I’ve explained and demonstrated the mounting process before, and even made a video about it. Here are a few images of my son and I getting the prints ready for the exhibition.

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Gratitude

I am always grateful for the opportunity to have my work displayed in galleries and art fairs, but some of my favorite venues are coffee shops. There’s a social aspect to it that makes me feel more in touch with the local community I call home, and it’s cool to see people enjoying themselves and looking at the prints without any pretenses about art.

I make images because I want them to have meaning for myself and for others. And that happens best when people can see them in places they feel comfortable in. Home is ideal of course, and that’s why people buy prints.

But any opportunity to share your work in a way that adds value to the artist and the viewer is a win-win for me.

2015 PhotoPlus Expo Recap and Observations

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As I sit in my local coffee shop thinking about last weeks PhotoPlus Expo, I realize how fortunate I am. During my three days at the Canson Infinity booth, I talked with many students and friends and saw many familiar faces. It was great to hear about their experiences with printing, their photography projects, and how much they are enjoying Canson papers. It was also gratifying to hear how much they appreciated my help.

I admit it was difficult for me to write that last sentence, simply because I’m not comfortable calling attention to myself and my actions. But I want to acknowledge all of you who expressed your gratitude, and say that I am humbled by your feedback.

It keeps me focused on the things that truly matter and less worried about those things that don’t.

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Next Generation Printers

I didn’t get to walk the show floor that much, but I wanted to highlight the new generation of printers from Canon and Epson. I got a chance attend a special event where Canon launched their new 17” wide printer, the Canon Pro-1000.

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A successor to the Pro-1 (which I reviewed here), the Pro-1000 sports a new look and design. Notable features include anti-clogging technology, new plugin software that promises sharper prints, and newly formulated inks (Lucia Pro) with a richer photo black ink for contrast and increased shadow detail. The inks also have a larger color gamut than previous Canon printers.

It’s obvious this is Canon’s response to the Epson Surecolor P800 introduced earlier this year. It offers many of the same features as the Pro-1000, plus a few more. For example, Epson offers an optional roll feeder, which is great for printing panoramas. The new UltraChrome HD inks also offer extended permanence ratings, up to 400 years according to Wilhelm-Research.

While they are also roughly the same size, the Epson P800 weights about 27lbs (12kg) less than the Canon Pro-1000 – not an insignificant amount.

It’s an exciting time to get into printing when you consider the current printer technology that’s never been available before at this price point (app $1,000). I hope to get one of these printers soon, just have to decide which one!

For a broader scope of what the major highlights were at PhotoPlus, I recommend Kevin Raber’s excellent articles over on luminous-landscape: Day 1 and Day 2.

Common Questions

As always, I received many questions at the Canson booth. Probably the most common question was something like, “What’s the best paper for…?”

My answer is always the same – it depends on the image and what you want to convey as the photographer. There is no best paper for “black and white” or “landscapes.” As I explained in my last article, you choose a paper based on how it complements your vision.

Another common question was which printer is better, Canon or Epson. And again it’s virtually impossible to see the difference in quality from one to the other. They both make beautiful prints, and all of the prints on display in the Canson booth were made using printers from both manufacturers. Brand loyalty, pricing, and specific features are the deciding factors between the two.

Finally, many asked if Canson had any new papers. While there were no new papers, several papers have been renamed. BFK Rives is now known as Printmaking Rag. Arches Velin Museum Rag and Arches Aquarelle Rag are now Velin Museum Rag and Aquarelle Rag. While the names have changed, the paper and ICC profiles are identical.

Canson also has a redesigned website with improved navigation, resources, and informational videos made by yours truly.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the expo, and especially want to thank Canson Infinity for their support and friendship.

I’ll be writing a lot more about printing in the coming months as I develop some new advanced printing workshops. Stay tuned!

Questions or comments please share them below!

Image Selection and Printing for PhotoPlus Expo 2015

I am honored and humbled once again to be a guest artist with Canson Infinity at this year’s 2015 PhotoPlus Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC from Oct 22-24.

I’ll be in attendance all three days explaining why I think Canson makes the best fine art paper on the market and answering questions about all things photography. While the days are long and grueling, I enjoy chatting with all of the people that visit the booth as well as saying hello to old and new friends. And my work gets seen by thousands of people, which is something I never take for granted. I’m often asked about my relationship with Canson, so I thought I would share some of the details.

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Becoming a Canson Ambassador

My relationship with Canson Infinity started over five years ago when I visited PhotoPlus as an attendee, and noticed their distinctive black sign for the first time. I had already been using their paper based on a recommendation from my local dealer but had never seen them before at the convention. I made a beeline for their booth, excited to share what I carried.

In my backpack was a freshly printed copy of my 8.5×11 Hudson Valley folio, comprised of 10 fine art prints together with a title page and an elegant cover and custom label. Critically, it was printed on Canson Edition Etching Rag, which had become my favorite paper at the time. I had brought it with me for promotional purposes but didn’t have any specific person or company in mind. That is until I saw the Canson banner.

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As I approached their booth, the first thing I noticed was the quality of the photography on the walls. It was more than just the quality of the prints. It was obvious to me they cared as much about the paper as they did about the images. And that made an impression on me. I introduced myself and asked if they might be interested in looking at my folio that was printed on their paper. One thing slowly lead to another and six months later was invited to their American headquarters in Massachusetts and asked I wanted to become an ambassador. My role is basically to promote their papers in any way I’d like, as well as help with product development and provide feedback on current papers.

In an age of commercialism and profits driven marketing, it’s refreshing to work with a company that puts the interests of the artist first. Landscape photography is already unbelievably competitive, and I pride myself on using the finest materials I can find. When a customer purchases a print, I’m confident in knowing they’re getting the very best I can produce as a photographer and printmaker. The differences may be subtle, but are still critically important. I want to earn the trust of my customers. The best way to do that is to show that the details matter. So I continue to recommend Canson paper without hesitation in my printing workshops, and anywhere I share my print portfolio.

Selecting and Printing Images

For this year’s expo, I sent about a dozen images to Canson for evaluation, and they picked seven with some paper recommendations and specific sizes. However, they let me have the final decision as far as paper, and I print them myself in my studio. I then send the prints to Canson to be mounted onto gatorboard and prepared for the expo.

As I discuss at length in my printing workshops , paper selection is based on subject matter, and the overall mood and feel of each image and what I’m trying to convey. Sometimes that requires more contrast and shadow depth. For other images, I prefer a softer, quieter feel that adds nuance to the light and textures in the image. It ultimately depends on my vision for each print, separate and distinct from the image on screen. Prints take on a physical life of their own, and I love that I can hold something I created.

I’ve shared each of the images below as well as the paper choices and brief notes. I hope it gives you some insight into paper selection and how critical personal vision is.

Canyon Trail, UT

Printed on Canson Platine Fibre Rag/Canon ipf8400 – complements the deep shadows, hard edges, and dramatic light that I want to emphasize. I felt in awe at the time, and I want the print to convey the real depth and richness of that experience.

Cove Light, TN

Printed on Canson Edition Etching Rag/Canon ipf8400- mood and feel are the main goals here created by the soft ethereal light, and Edition Rag’s mat finish with a slight texture adds depth and maintains the quiet nature of the image.

Printed on Canson Velin Museum Rag/Epson 3880- lots of texture and detail, and rich color means I want a paper that doesn’t get in the way. A beautiful rag mat paper like Velin maintains the rich color and adds a subtle slight texture that complements the image. Smoothness is paramount because of the subject matter, which is jagged and edgy.

Printed on Canson Velin Museum Rag/Epson 3880- similar to the previous image, a rag paper like Velin maintains the overall mood and feel of the moment without compromising color or detail.

Printed on Canson Rag Photographique/Canon ipf8400- this image was a challenge due to the deep shadows and sharp and distinct details. I made prints on both Platine Fibre Rag and Rag Photographique and ultimately decided on the latter because I preferred the more subtle look and feel of the mat paper. Plus the ultra smooth finish of Photographique complements both the smooth sky and water given all the detail and texture.

Hadlock Light, ME

Printed on Canson Platine Fibre Rag/Canon ipf8400- another tough image to make and print, but I chose Platine Fibre Rag for that extra separation in the dense grasses in the foreground and also the presence it adds to the clouds and forest along the opposite shoreline. It’s less about subtlety and more about emphasizing contrasts in the image.

Marsh Lines, Acadia NP

Printed on Canson Edition Etching Rag/Canon ipf8400 – while this image has lots of texture and detail, it’s the colors and patterns I want to emphasize together with the broader shapes and how it leads the viewer through the image. It’s movement and flow more that any specific area of the image, and Edition conveys all of that without compromising detail. Once again, it’s the smoothness, or harmony, I’m interested in most.

All of these decision are a matter of personal preference and totally subjective. That’s why you will never hear me recommend a specific paper for any broad category of images. The best paper for black and white images doesn’t exist. What does exist is the paper that best complements your artistic vision for an image, regardless of the subject matter or techniques you use. The image and personal preference should dictate the paper choice, not the other way around. 

Thanks as always for reading, and comments or questions are always welcome – please leave them below!

Notes and Observations From Photo Plus Expo 2014

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I survived and enjoyed another Photo Plus Expo in NYC this past weekend, and it was my fourth in four years as an ambassador with Canson Infinity. I want to thank the entire staff and management at Canson for inviting me and being an amazing team to work with. That’s not something you often find in this industry, and it’s an honor I take very seriously.

Anyhow, here are a few observations and notes on this years show in and out of the Canson booth that I hope you find useful.

Canson Heritage

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Yes, that’s a list of the amazing artists who have used Canson paper over the past 400 years. I had someone come over and ask me what the connection to “Caravaggio” was, (a name he recognized.) When I explained that the company has been making traditional papers for hundreds of years, and Caravaggio used them, his eyes lit up in a “light bulb” moment. Digital papers are just a part of their whole product line. If you walk into any Michael’s, or other art store, you’ll see a whole line of drawing, sketching, and watercolor papers made by Canson. That’s a rich heritage dedicated to artists and their vision. In fact, if you visited the booth this weekend, you certainly noticed the incredible range of photography exhibited this year, and that’s by design. The “art” comes first for Canson, and that’s one of the main reasons I use their papers.

Paper Texture

One of the topics that I often discuss at these shows is the “texture” or “tooth” of a particular paper, and how that affects the image. Many think that once you place a print behind glass, texture is lost and not relevant any longer. However, texture is not just a quality we can feel with our fingers, but can also see, because it affects how light reflects off a papers surface. The smoother the texture, the more direct those light rays reflect into our eyes, and the shinier, or more reflective a paper appears.

A paper with lots of texture, such as a watercolor paper, refracts those light rays much more randomly, and that makes the paper appear flatter, softer, and more dimensional. It also has an aesthetic affect on the image printed on the paper. None of these qualities is lost when you put a print behind glass, especially a good quality glass like anti-reflective museum glass, which is what I use for all my framed prints. Yes, I know you can’t touch the paper any longer, and so that important tactile quality is lost. But the effect of the paper on reflected light is still preserved, and that will still impact the softness or reflectiveness of the paper on the viewer.

In summary, when a person looks at your print, that observation is affected by the refraction of light on the papers surface, which is not affected by the glass in any significant way. The texture still matters.

The Experience of a Fine Art Paper

Another sentiment I heard, even from experienced printers, was that the texture and weight of a paper was largely irrelevant for them because most people do not handle paper by hand, but instead experience them behind glass. But why does this have to be the case, especially when handling a print is such a tactile, sensory experience? “Our customers don’t know anything about papers or printing,” they said, “and could care less.” I totally agree. But what does that matter? Do I know anything at all about how the iPhone is manufactured, or even with what materials? Does that stop me from appreciating the incredible attention to fit and finish, the design and aesthetics of it, and most importantly, the thought process that went into its design when I hold it in my hand? Of course not, and I would argue the same can be said for a fine art print on beautiful paper.

When someone holds a print in their hands, on a heavy 310gm paper, the psychological effect is immense. The print becomes an object unto itself, and they can feel the quality of not just the print, but the effort and attention to detail that went into the making of the print. You create an experience for the viewer, and that is something an iPad or computer monitor can never create.

In fact, when the stakes are high, I never show my work to anyone on an electronic device. I always have my portfolio with loose prints because I know that will make an impression on so many levels that I could never achieve with any other medium. As an example, I had a meeting with a marketing director for a major camera manufacturer this past weekend. I never approach that situation without my portfolio of 13×19 prints, and I made sure to place at least one into their hands. Marketing experts agree that getting a potential customer to touch and experience something physically leaves an impression you can’t achieve any other way.

So never underestimate the value of letting people handle your prints, (regardless of whether you made them or not,) and how that can influence the impression people have of your work and your dedication to your photography.

Updated Gura Gear backpack

Gura Gear released an “Art Wolfe” limited edition version of their Uinta backpack. It has a new brown/black color scheme that looks great. They’ve also developed shallower versions of the modules that fit inside the Uinta for those using mirror-less and smaller format cameras. This leaves more room inside the pack for other items, as well as making it lighter and giving it a smaller profile. Read my field review of the Uinta here.

FLM Tripods and Ball heads

I’m always being asked about tripods, and I’m always on the lookout for any new products worth checking out. I came across some VERY nice tripods from FLM, a German manufacturer which was showing their line of carbon fiber tripods and ball heads. They felt amazing in their quality and smoothness, and I was impressed with how well they felt and operated. I asked for a review unit, and should be receiving one in the coming weeks to put it through its paces. Considering I’ve been in the market for a new tripod system for a while, I’m interested to test a setup from FLM and see how it works for me. I’ll write about it here of course!

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Ambassador Program

Finally, I want to mention a new photographer that Canson added to the ambassador program recently, Wilco Dragt. Based out of the Netherlands, his work is fantastic, and his sensitivity to the landscape and capturing more than just what the eye sees, is very refreshing. I met Wilco at Photokina this past September, and we immediately became friends based on our mutual approaches to photography and life. It was great to see his work  prominently displayed in the booth this year.  And of course, when he made his presentation to the Canson management, he used his beautifully printed portfolio using Canson paper.

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To see more of his work, visit Wilco’s website.

Thanks for reading, and thank you if you came by the booth to say hello. I enjoyed talking to all of you and truly appreciate your friendship and support. 

Harness the Lightroom Develop Module for Creative Impact – B&H Seminar

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Just a quick update that I will be at B&H Photo Video on April 28th from 1-3 pm delivering a talk on the Lightroom 5 Develop module.

Creative processing is one of the cornerstones of digital photography in my opinion, and one of the fundamental skills that I think all photographers should master. In this talk I show a bunch of examples comparing before and after versions, I illustrate the process of how to think about developing images, then I spend some time working on a few images  to show my general approach. Hope you can make it!

Register for the seminar here

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