Warm Wishes from Our Family to Yours

warm

A BIG THANK YOU to all of our wonderful customers! It was truly a pleasure to be a part of your business in 2016. We hope you enjoy this Holiday Season and we wish you all the best in 2017!

Holiday Hours
We will be closed between December, 23 to January 2, 2016. We will be back to normal business hours on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Our servers will always be up 24/7 everyday for orders.

How Long Do Metal Prints Last?

metal-prints

How long will they last? Simply put, longer than you or me. In a scientific test, metal prints created by the dye-sublimation process were found to retain color balance as much as 4 times longer than archival photographic paper.

Leland H. Carlblom, Ph.D, Senior Scientist at R&D Coatings Inc, concluded the following:

“White MetalPrints panels imaged with 6 color SubliJet IQ inks were tested for color fade and color balance by an industry accepted, accelerated test protocol which utilizes a Xenon Arc Test Chamber to simulate interior daylight conditions. Three different long lasting silver halide/dye photo papers were concurrently tested for comparison. Image lifetime for the MetalPrints panels, as defined by the test protocol, was 2 to 4 times that of the long lasting photo papers.”

For the full article please see, Xenon Light Stability Testing by Leland H Carlblom.

5 Reasons to Print Your Photos

printyourwork

In today’s internet driven world, we see photos shared everywhere on our ubiquitous digital devices. Viewing or sharing an image is always only an arms’ length away. When our photos are so easily accessible it’s hard to find a good reason to print them. We’ll give you five.

1. Get something real out of a virtual world

When your photos sit in your phone or computer they might as well rot there. How many times do you just collect photos on your device without ever looking at them again? They exist there in the form of bytes and bits, only a hard drive failure or accidental delete key away from oblivion. Once you get a digital image printed, you just created something tangible out of thin air. That moment in time that existed only in the digital mind of your device can now be touched and held in your hands. And, that may be the best way to keep those memories around as stated in reason number 2.

2. Guaranteed longevity

According to internet pioneer, Vint Cerf, the ever changing landscape of computing can render file formats to become unreadable in the future. Some day a jpg might not be accessible because the format becomes obsolete and we don’t have devices that recognize it. It would be like having your treasured memories only available on Advantix film. Yeah, remember that film format? Your images on the cloud are no safer. They might remain there as long as companies like Google, Apple and Amazon are still around. But even that’s not guaranteed in the coming decades. When we look at our family’s old albums and shoeboxes full of prints we know prints are proven to last.

3. Show your true vision

You spent a tremendous amount of effort and patience to get that amazing shot. The color is sublime, the exposure is perfect and the composition is impeccable. What if someone tweaked the colors, blew out the highlights and cropped off part of your masterpiece? That’s what happens when it gets shared online or printed by someone else without your supervision. All screens and displays are different. Some are very inaccurate and some are just terrible. Your image can look very different on someone else’s screen. If you give your image file to a friend or, even worse, a client to print on their own, they might take it to a pharmacy, warehouse or some other subpar place to get it printed. Then they’ll judge your work by the horrible print they got there. When you take the time to see your work through by taking it to a print lab that you trust, you control the final product and deliver your true vision, not some compromised facsimile of it.

4. Become a better photographer

Prints show you things that you might’ve missed on your screen, especially small ones. The larger you print, the more you’ll be able to magnify technical issues and details. The feedback is much more accurate and useful than viewing it on Instagram. Getting proof prints are a great economical way to review your shoot. You can then edit and refine your work. So next time, you’ll be ready to get the shot right without resorting to Photoshop.

5. It’s fulfilling

There’s something deeply satisfying about seeing your carefully crafted image on a beautiful print. It’s the physical manifestation of your creativity and effort. Once you get a great print, it’s addictive and so much fun! Unlike pixels on your device, prints are actually tangible pieces of art that you can gift to family, sell to clients and decorate your walls.

So pull out that camera and create something amazing, but don’t forget the benefits of printing your photos. It’ll make your experience that much better.

Where To Print My Wedding Photos

wedding photography

So your wedding’s over and your photographer handed you all your memories of the big day on CD or USB Drive. Now what? After going through the huge list of images, you probably want to print a few excellent shots that captured your feelings of that awesome day. And, there’s probably some images that you want to print for your parents and your favorite auntie. Then there’s a few of those artsy shots that would make great wall decorations or table pieces.

Prints are great because they’re permanent. After all the guests are gone and the cake is eaten, you’ll leave that day with a new marriage and memories of one of the most important events of your life. Your flowers will wither and the moment will pass, but prints will last a lifetime.

wedding photogrpahy

Whatever you do, don’t skimp out on the prints. You invested a good amount of money by hiring a professional photographer—don’t lose it all by taking those photos to a warehouse or pharmacy to print. Before digital photography became mainstream, almost all professional photographers delivered their print products to the bride and groom, instead of handing over a disc full of images. This made a huge difference in the final product. Because the photographer chose a trusted professional print lab and saw the whole process through, he delivered prints that met his standards and matched the image he envisioned when he captured the moment.

If you want to get the most out of your timeless prints, here’s a secret…find a photo lab where the pros go. A professional lab uses higher quality materials and deploys more rigorous operating standards. That means you get prints that are not only accurate but just plain look amazing. The better the photography, the more you’ll appreciate the difference of using a pro lab. Here’s a great story of a professional photographer and her documented experience with a consumer lab vs pro lab, https://rebeccadanzenbaker.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/consumer-photo-labs-vs-pro-photo-lab-shocking-results/

Your precious memories deserve the attention of someone who’s committed to his craft, not just a clueless clerk who’s been promoted from the warehouse. If you value great photography, you owe it to yourself to find a place that’s just as passionate about printing it.

*Note: These incredible pictures provided by Martin Ngo Photography

How Big Can I Print My Image?

jim_tarpos_40x120_pano

Any image can be printed as large as you want. It just depends on your expectations. From the fact that you’re reading this article on this website, I’d have to guess that you’re a more discerning person than the average Joe. So, I’m going to assume that you want an excellent quality print without any visible artifacts, jagged edges or pixelization. This will depend on two factors: viewing distance and image size (measured in quantity of pixels).

Viewing Distance
Viewing distance is very important because due to the limitations of human vision, the resolution (ppi – pixels per inch) requirement goes down as you get farther away from the print. And, since larger prints are meant to be viewed at farther distances, the required resolution of larger prints are less than smaller prints. For an extreme example, an optically clear 4”x6” print requires 300 ppi at about 2 ft away while an average billboard requires about 10 ppi at hundreds of feet away. Your large print probably falls closer to the 4×6.

You geeks can find more in-depth discussion about resolution and viewing distance here, http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/print_viewing_distance.html

Once we considered the viewing distance of prints and file size, we came up with our subjective guideline below.

Image Size -MegaPixelsPixel DimensionsImage Quality - ExcellentImage Quality - Very GoodImage Quality - Meh
31536 x 2048Up to 5x7Up to 8x12Up to 12x18
41800 x 2400Up to 8x12Up to 11x16Up to 16x24
51932 x 2580Up to 8x12Up to 12x18Up to 16x24
62016 x 3040Up to 8x12Up to 16x24Up to 24x30
7.12304 x 3072Up to 11x16Up to 16x24Up to 24x30
8.32336 x 3504Up to 12x18Up to 20x30Up to 30x40
10.22592 x 3872Up to 16x24Up to 20x30Up to 30x40
12.42912 x 4368Up to 20x30Up to 30x40Up to 30x45
16.23328 x 4992Up to 20x30Up to 30x40Up to 36x48
17.93456 x 5184Up to 24x36Up to 36x48Up to 40x60
21.03744 x 5616Up to 30x40Up to 40x6040x60+
304480 x 6720Up to 30x4540x60+40x60+
36.34912 x 7360Up to 40x6040x60+40x60+
50.65792 x 8688Up to 40x6040x60+40x60+

Image Size
If you have any interest in cameras, you’re familiar with the term, megapixels—the single most boasted technical spec on every digital camera. It’s the measurement of the amount of detail that can be captured by the camera. In short, the more megapixels you have, the larger you can print your image.

Here’s a list of common cameras and their image file sizes.

CameraImage Size - MegaPixels
iPhone 7 & 7 Plus12
iPhone 6s & 6s Plus12
iPhone 6 & 6 Plus8
iPhone 58
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge12
Samsung Galaxy S616
Canon Rebel T518
Canon 5D Mark IV30.4
Canon 5D Mark III22.3
Canon 80D24.2
Canon 5DS50.6
Nikon D330024.2
Nikon D81036.3
Sony A630024.2
Sony Alpha 7RII42.4

Metal Prints vs Canvas

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You have a great image that needs a place in your home. You probably remember seeing an eye-catching metal print or an elegant canvas wrap somewhere at a gallery or at a nice home. Either choice can really upgrade the appearance of your room, but one will definitely work better. This depends on your image and the style of your interior.

Metal Prints
Metal Prints are all about vibrant colors and deep contrast. Soft subtle images generally don’t work as well on this media. The high contrast makes any image look bolder and its inherent sharpness brings out detail incredibly well. So if you have a relatively low resolution image or a flawed image, you might want to pass on metal.

As a general guideline, these categories of photography work really well with metal prints.

  • Seascapes – Could be our locale, but seascapes are the most popular type of photography for metal prints in our lab in Southern California. The shades of blue in the sky and ocean look so pleasing to the eye. There is so much detail in the waves that it feels like you could touch and feel the water with your hands. It seems that this media was made for seascape photography.
  • Landscapes – Landscapes are naturally abundant with vivid color. That’s why many landscape photographers choose metal for their galleries. Fall foliage look unbelievable on metal. Head-turning yellow leaves of the Colorado Aspens are a must see on metal.
  • Sunsets – Want to see a sunset ignite your wall? The rich warm colors of sunsets come alive on metal prints. The spectrum of colors between yellow and red pop with so much intensity.
  • Black & White – What?! Yes, black and white photos, look great on metal. You’re thinking, “You just told me to choose images with bold colors. Why are you contradicting yourself?” Truth is … metal offers unprecedented contrast. The blacks are so much deeper than any traditional print. Black and white photographers are always looking for contrast to get that great “pop” in their images. Metal has that in spades.

metalprints

Metal prints look most natural in modern or contemporary interiors. You probably seen them at offices, hipster hangouts and trendy restaurants. Their chic modern look and feel make them very popular with the young and progressive crowd. Due to high glossy finish and bold colors they’ll fit really well in interiors with simple clean furnishings and nice polished surfaces. Below is a great example found on Houzz.com

Aluminum Wall Scupture

 

Canvas Prints
Canvas prints are definitely more versatile than metal prints. They don’t look out of place anywhere. They look just as good in a museum gallery as they would in a nice cozy home. They’re warm and inviting with an air of sophistication.

Both soft and bold images work well with canvas. The colors come out much softer and flatter than metal, but they’re no slouch when it comes to color fidelity. The color gamut will be closer to traditional photo prints. What really makes them unique is the texture and wrapped presentation. The texture gives your image a soft yet artsy look. That’s why they’re a really popular choice for portraits and wedding photography.

As adaptable as canvas prints are, I personally think they look best in transitional interiors like homes in a Pottery Barn catalog. Canvas really complements interiors with simple and classic styling as seen in this example found on Houzz.com.

Art as Pop

 

Conclusion
Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of the unique characteristics of these two medias. While we did present some strong recommendations, they are essentially just guidelines. There is no real right or wrong. Ultimately, the best choice for your home decor is what makes you makes you happy.

Complete Guide to Metal Photo Prints

aluminum_prints

If you’re looking for a modern way to display your photos in HD quality and head-turning color, metal prints are exactly what you’ve been waiting for. It’s hard to illustrate the superiority of metal prints on a computer screen. But, if you were to see them next to a traditional photo print in person, the difference would be obvious—it’s the one that makes your jaw drop. So, if you’re ready to show off that incredible shot, here’s what you need to know.

Finish Options
Metal prints come in two base color coatings, an opaque white and a transparent clear. This base coat serves the same function as paper. The inks are absorbed by this area of the specialized metal photo panel. This base is then protected by an outer coating, usually available in Glossy, Matte or Satin.

White Metal, the more popular choice, offers a traditional but vibrant look. Colors are rich and contrast is high. For the most part, colors look the way you expect them to look but enhanced and in High Definition.

white_metal_print

Clear Metal (aka Silver Metal) uses a clear base that allows the brushed aluminum to show through. Since the lightest color available (white point) is the metal itself, images will look darker. But, it will have a glimmer only metal can make. In my opinion, it makes most images look vintage in a modern way. Black and white images on clear metal look like 19th century daguerreotypes. It’s a very unique look.

clear_metal_print

A protective polymer outer coating is applied over the base surface.  Available in Glossy, Matte and Satin, each finish makes a very different look. Glossy is the most popular and the most eye-catching. Although there is some glare, this finish brings the most vivid colors out of metal prints. Matte is the most glare free and the lowest in contrast. Satin is somewhere in between but more like matte than glossy.

Quality – What to Look For
The two main factors for excellent metal photo prints are the quality of metal photo panels and the expertise of the print service provider.

Surprisingly, the quality of the metal photo panels can differ dramatically. Discount services like some found in Groupon use substandard materials that barely resemble professional quality metal prints. These panels can be overly thin with colors that look flat and inaccurate.  Consistent base coatings along with high quality aluminum are essential to getting great quality. While there are many brands of lower quality metal photo panels, Chromaluxe is the one brand that is used by professional photo labs and high quality printers. Definitely ask your printer what brand of metal panels that they use. If they don’t know, look somewhere else.

Next, you need someone with the expertise to get the best color out of them. The accuracy of any print depends upon the printer’s ability reproduce colors accurately and consistently. They should be well versed in color management and print production processes. They should be using high quality inks that have been profiled and calibrated to the metal panels. This is done by creating an ICC profile which is digital description of the color characteristics of their print process. If you have a monitor that was profiled and calibrated, the profiled colors of the metal prints should look very close to what you seen on your monitor. Click to learn how to get your prints to match your screen. Remember to ask your print service provider, if they have an ICC profile for their metal prints. This is a good way to get an idea of their level of expertise and their commitment to quality.

How Are They Made?
Metal prints are made by a process called dye sublimation. Unlike the traditional method of printing directly on the surface, which may damage easily, dye sublimation infuses the image directly into the hard coating to provide lasting durability and protection.

The first step requires your image to be printed on paper transfer media on a giclee printer with specialized sublimation inks made for the metal print process. The print will look like a flat colored mirrored copy of the original image.

giclee

This sheet is then taped on to blank metal photo panel which is then placed in a heat press. The heat and pressure causes the sublimation inks to transform into a gas. The gas is then absorbed through the pores of the polymer coating of the metal and into the base coating. As the metal cools, the pores close and the metal surface stabilizes.

heatpress

Additional Benefits
Other than the obvious image quality, metal prints offer additional benefits.

Metal prints offer great value. Since metal photo prints don’t need to be framed, you can save big on framing costs which are often much more than the price of the print itself. When ordered with a wall mount for a nominal fee ($5 to $10), you can have wall decor ready to hang at a fraction of the cost of a custom framed traditional photo print.

Durability and archivability of metal prints are excellent. The surface coating is very tough and scratch resistant. It doesn’t require any glass to cover it. Also, they are incredibly fade resistant. The Rochester Institute of Technology tested metal prints to last up to 70% longer than archival silver halide photographic prints.

Since they are printed on aluminum, metal prints are also water proof. If you have finger prints or something gets on it, just use a damp cloth to wipe it.

Where to get metal prints
Although metal prints are a great value, they are not cheap. They will cost much more than just a traditional print of the same size. Since you’re spending more, you’re much better off going to a competent pro lab or printer that knows what they’re doing rather than a clueless big box reseller who sends your order out to some off-site unknown mass production print plant. Prices will vary amongst service providers. Avoid the really cheap places and use the tips mentioned here to find someone who is willing to help you get what you want.

Color Gamuts Are As Easy As A Box of Crayons

crayons

Feeling a little overwhelmed with color gamuts, icc profiles, color profiling, etc, etc? I feel your pain. Getting your prints to match your screen seems like such a trivial matter until you actually try doing it. Printers and monitors have different color characteristics. It’s amazing we can even get some semblance of our images on to a print!

Fortunately and unfortunately, technology helped us with this challenge with sophisticated color management systems. This may sound complicated but the concept is quite simple. It’s just a way to identify colors and accurately use them when we want…like a box of crayons.

Close your eyes, go back in time and remember your first yellow and green box of Crayolas. Ah yes, it was your first experience with a magic box of color and wonder. Maybe it sparked that visual creativity in you. I still have warm and fuzzy feelings about my big box of 64 crayons. Who can you forget Cerulean, Aquamarine and Hot Magenta?

Every color output device is essentially a box of crayons. Monitors and printers paint images with their unique set of crayons known as their color gamut. The size of these color gamuts differ between brands and models—much like different boxes of crayons. These colors need to be identified and cataloged so they can be reproduced faithfully. The colors of your crayon collection are identified with unforgettable names like Periwinkle and Midnight Blue and placed nicely in a box of 24, 48 or 64 piece sets. In your computer, your output device’s colors are identified and saved as an ICC Profile which is a standardized color catalog, developed by the ICC (International Color Consortium).

So how are the colors produced by your output devices identified and cataloged? By a process called profiling. Crayola has their own way of identifying their crayons. We use devices, called spectrophotometers, and profiling software to measure and to identify colors of our output devices. You probably saw one of these devices for monitors. It looks like a mouse that you hangs on face of your monitor. It measures the color values of your monitor and then records it’s color gamut into a file (a.k.a. ICC Profie) on your computer which now has an accurate idea of how your monitor displays color.

Once this process is done for the printer as well as the monitor, you’ll be able accurately reproduce colors on your monitor onto a color managed printer just as easily as you would grabbing a Cerulean crayon to color the sky.

Amazing Picture You Gotta See!

professional-photo-printing

One of the perks of this job is the fact that we get to see many incredible images come through the lab day in and day out. It’s like going to the museum everyday! This one took the cake for today. One of our clients, Greg Stiles, wowed us with this amazing shot. The staff was convinced that it was Photoshop’d but Greg says it was just one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. We couldn’t agree more. If you don’t believe in a higher power, this picture might turn you into a believer.

Capturing the Beauty of The OC

HB_Pier_featured

It’s always a joy to see fresh talent in this business. I was really impressed with this shot by Mike Ledford of Aperture-Ink. We get to see images Huntington Beach Pier quite often but this one really stands out! Printed on Fuji Pearl, it was simply awesome.

Here’s Mike’s account of the breath taking moment.

It was early October and a good friend of mine asked me to shoot a picture for her to be printed and showcased in her room. The picture request? Something purple, a flower, and on the beach. So I set out to Huntington Beach with a purple rose and my camera. Once I arrived, the sky was clear and colorless with choppy waves which definitely forced my creativity to work a little harder.

Throughout my years of photography, I always admired those amazing images of the signature Huntington Pier with low tide creating a breath taking reflection, the sunset lighting up dramatic clouds, and the sense that really just seems to pull you in and place you right on the beach, however, I never seemed to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Before I knew it, clouds rolled in and the tide pulled back as the sun set behind the pier leaving one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen.

I photographed this image with a Canon 5d Mark ii and a 17-40mm f4 lens, at ISO 100, f8, 1/15 sec…and hand-held. With no filters or fancy post process work, this really is the sunset that was in front of me. This just goes to show that sometimes all a great image needs is a viewfinder and a little extra luck packed in your camera bag. Although the flower is missing, hopefully there is enough purple and beach scenery to make up for the loss.

Mike Ledford
Aperture Ink