Jul 232010

I ‘ve spent quite a bit of time tonight getting ready for the county fair coming up in September. I’ve decided to submit at least 3 of my images to the photography contest. One of them will be the flower shot that I blogged about a few days ago (Post Title: The Power of White Balance). The other is an HDR shot I took while at the Mayan ruins of Kohunlich. While there are certainly ruins in the background, the main subject is actually a very pretty tree.

In my opinion, this photo loses some if its impact shrunk down to the size needed to fit in the blog. I think it will look pretty cool in print. I just hope the petals pop as nicely on paper as they do on the screen.

What you don’t see is the headache I went through getting these two images ready to send to MPix. The fair requires that all photos be mounted on 15X19 to 16X20 foam core. I chose 16X20 because that’s a standard photo size and I can have MPix mount it for me. Now, neither of these photos are at their best cropped to 16X20. I wanted to print them so the long edge of each would be roughly 16 to 18 inches and then have a black border around the rest. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that no matter what I tried, I could not get the MPix ROES software to do what I wanted to do. I ended up going into Photoshop and creating a black 16X20 image layer and then adding my new image as a new layer above it and positioning it where I wanted it.

Of course, my other option would have been to print at a smaller size and take the print to a local place to have it matted (or attempted to figure out how to mat it myself). It might have been a little cheaper, but I just felt like since I was placing these images in competition, I wanted them to be presented as professionally as possible.

In other photography-related news, tomorrow I’ll be heading out to Market Square to participate in Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk. It starts at 9:00 but I plan to get there early and get my photo-mojo warmed up a little early. I’m hoping to get another shot or two for the fair. I’m going to keep my eye out for interesting architecture, inanimate objects, and candids of people going about their business. It should be a lot of fun!

Jul 152010

Over the last week or so, I’ve been trying to pick an online lab service to get prints made from. The first place I tried was White House Custom Color. The offer five free 8 X 10’s so you can tree out their service risk free. I sent mine in last week and received my prints last Friday. I was a little disappointed, to be honest. Three out of the five prints were anywhere from quite a bit darker to just enough darker to be noticeable and three or four of them had slight but noticeable color shifts. (I have a colorimeter so I know my monitors are showing me the colors correctly.)

The next lab I tried was MPix. I sent them the same five prints with the exception that four of them I had printed full frame at 8 X 12. They don’t offer a free trial so this test was out of my pocket. I have to say, the results were obviously better. The color on all the prints were spot on. The one print that came back the darkest from WHCC also came back a little dark from MPix but not quite as much. I guess it’s just got something to do with that file. The others, however, looked as close to perfect as can reasonably be expected. MPix’s packaging was much sturdier as well. WHCC has a wider paper selection than MPix, but I’d rather have accurate color than a wide selection of products that don’t quite look like what I expected them to.

I was going to try Adorama’s photo printing service because I’ve bought almost all my photo gear from them, but they make you place separate orders if you want to print different pictures on different types of paper. Separate orders means separate shipping charges. If I was a pro sending in a bunch of wedding prints that were all going to come back the same way, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But at this stage in my photographic development, I’m likely to want to experiment with how different types of pictures look on different types of paper/substrate. I don’t want to have to pay $5 or $6 shipping for each type of paper I want to see a print on, ya know?