What is PrintMania! you ask? It was my weekend! This weekend I printed my photographs. And printed. And printed some more. All to get ready for the Corvallis Fall Festival, an art fair I’m going to be participating in a few weeks from now. It’s all part of my great adventure to complete the circle of creating my art through print. This is my first art fair and thankfully I’m in a group booth for the PhotoArts Guild. I can’t imagine how much I would have to create to have a booth of my own!
My plan was to get ready over several weeks before the festival set up on 21-September but events conspired to push me to complete it all this weekend. My lovely brand new printer developed a problem, and so I got a replacement under warranty. I wanted to test the heck out of the replacement printer before I sent the original, intermittently working printer back. I figured an intermittently working printer was better than no working printer, when I had this looming deadline coming up. The replacement printer worked like a champ, so I’m happy with the printer and I’m now ready for the fair! Here’s what I’ve prepared: 40 greeting cards with envelopes, 25 prints matted to 8×10 inches, 10 prints matted to 11×14 inches, and 10 prints matted to 16×20 inches (4 of these are framed).
Having this art fair project also enabled me to really dig and learn a bit more about how I want to present my work. Remember when I talked about printed aspect ratios? Most standard mats in the US have 5×7, 8×10 or 11×14 inch openings. My 2:3 photos can survive the crop for a 5×7 format, but 8×10 or 11×14 doesn’t work for most of them. That means I have to order custom mats to maintain the right aspect ratio, so I tested three different mat opening/photo size combinations for a 16×20″ frame. They are shown below. On the left is an 8×12″ print, the center is a 9×13.5″ print, and the right is a 10×15″ print. All of these maintain the 2:3 aspect ratio of the print with different widths of mat. I could use your opinion, which one do you like best? (If you are interested in checking out the companies I use for ordering custom mats and other materials, see the “Online Services & Shops” link under Resources on the sidebar of the blog.)
I also learned a fabulous new feature in Lightroom 4: Soft Proofing. This feature simulates the effect of printing for the combination of printer and paper you are using, and will show you not only the shift in brightness and contrast but also which colors the printer can’t print. (Monitors can display more colors than printers can print.) This is incredibly helpful to adjust the photo before printing. Between this feature and significantly reducing my monitor brightness (it’s set at 3% for printing!), I get pretty close to what I want on the first print. Soft proofing is still not completely accurate, but it does save on test prints. And the beauty of Lightroom’s virtual copies is I can have a copy of the photo edited specifically for printing with almost no effort. In getting ready for this art fair, I now have “print ready” images that have been edited and tested available for print any time. Nice!
It takes a different kind of creativity for a project like this compared to creating and editing the images. It’s been frustrating at times but I’m learning something new for my art, and that’s the important thing. While it’s different than the feeling I get from capturing a great image, the satisfaction of seeing my images in print, all matted, signed and ready for someone to frame and hang in their home, is pretty amazing. It will be fun to interact with the people attending the art fair and see the reaction to my work in person. I can’t wait!