Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs


Printing Insights #001

"Watch the Ambient Light!"

by Greg Governale


A close friend of mine is a very accomplished painter. He was commissioned to do a series of wildlife paintings for the Bradford Exchange.The paintings were reproduced as limited edition collectors plates. They all sold out!

The first piece of art work I reproduced for him using the Epson 9500 was a real challenge. His painting was photographed using an eight by 10 in. view camera.The transparency was then drum scanned. The original painting is 35 in. by 48 in. He wanted to be able to reproduce images the full size of the original directly onto artist canvas.

This resulted in a file size of over 350MB. Making simple adjustments in brightness and contrast on a file that large is a very time consuming process. I have a Dell XPS T550 with 768 megs of RAM. Removing dust and scratches from the file at pixel level took about 45 minutes . Adjusting brightness/contrast, hue/ saturation and color balance took about a half-hour. Printing out our first proof also took approximately 35 minutes. The result was very disappointing. It was clear that there would be a lot of work that had to be done in order to reproduce an acceptable print.

After spending many long days tweaking the file and printing out proofs way to numerous to even mention, we finally had a print that looked really good! I rolled up the canvas and let him take it back to his studio. Shortly after he got there I received a phone call from an artist that was very upset. He felt the image looked terrible, it was way too green ,{ his studio is flooded with daylight } he found it to be totally unacceptable. I didn't understand how this could be, since not less than an hour earlier the print looked really good. He told me he didn't care what it looked like an hour ago, but that now it really looked bad.

I drove over to his studio and looked at the image, to my surprise it no longer looked like a really good print any more. The whole print was very green, it looked really bad. I told him I really didn't know what else to do. I told him I would try working on the image again tomorrow.I went home.

A few hours later he called me on the phone, he had gone out to dinner with his girlfriend and when they returned the print had somehow changed and now it looked like a really good print again. I didn't understand how this was possible. I drove back to his studio and to my complete amazement the print now looked like a 95% match to the original . We joked about the print being similar to a chameleon, it would change colors depending on its surroundings, we decided to wait until the next day before passing any judgment.


We spent most of the next day moving the print into various different lighting situations. We went to three separate galleries, we viewed the print both indoors and outdoors, in bright sunlight and cool shade. We viewed the print in combination lighting, a mixture of daylight and incandescent and fluorescent light. We also viewed the original painting in the same types of light.

What we found out is some of the most valuable information I can share with anybody. Even original paintings shift colors depending on the light sources they are viewed in. The pigment based inks in the Epson 9500 shift color even more drastically than a painting. By moving the original and the proof into various lighting conditions you can develop an understanding of what effect light will have on the image. As you make adjustments in color balance you will eventually reach a point where changing the light you view the proof in has less and less of an effect. When the proof reaches the point that the color shift is minimal. You will be done.

I know it would be nice to develop a very scientific way of reproducing a color match reliably. Understanding what different light does to pigment based ink is equally important. You have to see what different lighting does in order to develope an understanding of the process. You will learn which images will be easy to color correct and which images will still be somewhat of a challenge.

I would urge anybody who is doing serious color correction using a printer with pigment based ink to constantly check how the proof looks in various lighting situations. It will make it easy to identify which color is causing the problem. This will make for fewer adjustments, A smaller number of proofs and will save time and substrate. You will be able to produce a higher quality of print in a shorter period of time.

About Greg Governale

"My name is Greg Governale, I was born in Chicago Illinois in June of 1956. When I was ten years old our family moved to a small town about 30 mi. west of the city of Chicago called Hanover park .

Each summer we would take a family vacation, it was on these vacations that I developed an interest in capturing images of wildlife. As the years went by, my experience using a camera grew. I also accumulated a large number of images. Some were good, but most were not of professional quality.

A severe accident in 1974 left me disabled. I went through a series of operations that would totally change my life forever. I lost the use of my left hand and arm but in the process I developed a true understanding of what it means to be patient. Sitting in a blind for hours on end no longer bothers me. I have a degree in supermarket management. My physical limitations make it impossible for me to do my previous job.

I started out doing shows at local libraries and nature centers. The more shows I would do the more sales I would generate. Over the years I've developed an ever growing number of people who appreciate what I do.Bringing the printing of my images in house allows me to control every aspect of how my images are reproduced.

As we continue to over populate our planet, wild animals and truly wild places will continue to diminish. It is my hope that my images will somehow make people aware of the beauty and importance of wildlife, and encourage them to contribute to such conservation groups as the World Wildlife Fund, The Defenders of Wildlife, and National and International Wildlife. A portion of the money generated by each print I sell goes to the organization's mentioned above.

I currently live in Streamwood Illinois and go on three or four major trips each year. My trips are sometimes limited by my disability, however I will continue to pursue wildlife with great care keeping in mind my safety and the safety of the animals."

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