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Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 06:52 PM
Technical Excellance is the print quality of the image itself as it is presented for viewing. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, mounting, and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of the physical print.

This is where I often see newcomers complain that the judges just don't get their style. I am looking forward to what you all have to say about this.

Keith

GregYager
09-05-2010, 07:05 PM
A quick question on printing.

My work has been printed on Kodak Lustre for many years and I loved it but my lab has recently changed to Fuji paper. It may just be my unwillingness to give up Kodak but I don't seem to see the same rich colors I used to see.

Do I need to figure out a way to make the Fuji work or should I find a lab that still works with Kodak? 99% of my work is people so skin tones are very important to me.

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 08:28 PM
Greg, skintones are very important to me as well. I would consider these questions. Does your lab provide you with a guide file and print? Do you use something to calibrate your monitors? Does your lab offer test prints to calibrate your system to theirs? Do you like and have a relationship with the people at your lab? All of these are considerations that play into this question. Personally what ever lab you use if they cahnge something or if you change labs, you need to do some in depth work to calibrate to the lab's system. Run test prints and tweek your preferances to get the results you like. This is assuming you are doing your own color correction. You should be thinking about this for your everyday work, not just competition.

As far as competition goes: What you need to do is enter a print that you are 100% satisfied with. If you can achieve that with Fuji fine. I have loan prints on Fuji paper and loan prints on Kodak paper. What is really the issue here is if you have any doubts about the color on Fuji paper then, unless the print goes loan, you will always wonder if changing paper would have made a difference. My advice to you is aim for no regrets. When you enter an image you should be satisfied that it is the best you could possibly make it. If you are saying to yourself that it is not quite right, or maybe the judges won't see . . . then it is not ready to be entered.

One last thought, remember that every paper has it's own characteristics. Brand X paper in E surface or Luster will look different than the same brand in F surface or glossy surface or metalic. There is more to paper than just the surface. So it stands to reason that the same image will have a different look on the different papers. Run some test so you can predict what you will get and make the best choice for the feeling and emotion of the image.

Keith

Linda_Gregory
09-05-2010, 08:29 PM
It's off topic from Keith's thread but it's strange, I am a Fuji person and refuse to go Kodak.I don't like the cool tones of the Kodak paper.

Keith,

I agree with you but I see a trend hitting hard of bad color, blown out highlights and overall bad exposures being the rage. I have even seen actions that will take a good file and make it into this style.

What I'm saying is, if it's done on purpose..and how are you to tell...the people that entered this type are not going to be happy with it being dismissed.

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 08:42 PM
I agree with you but I see a trend hitting hard of bad color, blown out highlights and overall bad exposures being the rage. I have even seen actions that will take a good file and make it into this style.

What I'm saying is, if it's done on purpose..and how are you to tell...the people that entered this type are not going to be happy with it being dismissed.

So? It's still technically weak. I don't care if they like the style or not. Weak is weak. Just like we discussed about creativity, if you aren't using that element to help the image, then you have to rely on the other elements to lift the print up to merit level. That being said, how can a judge tell if it was a mistake or it was done on purpose? The answer is we don't care. Remember, we judge what is in front of us. The entrant does not get to explain or defend. We are judging end result not the intention. ( the ONLY explanation is the title, which we can talk about when we get to story telling) So whether it is intentional or accidental, the only thing we ask ourselves on the panel is the image better because of whatever occured? Lens flare, desaturation or funky color, blown highlights, whatever, I am sure that all of these can and have done well in competition WHEN they improved or perpetuated the story/emotion of an image. What I was referencing in my original post here was sometimes newcomers don't understand the difference between making a choice that helps an image and using an effect just because it's trendy.

Keith

After I posted this I wanted to add, just like the rest of the elements there is overlap here and this point will come up again in technique.

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 08:54 PM
So here are my top technical issues that I have seen keep a print down.

Cloning
Sensor dust
banding - especially when prople are printing their own work on an inkjet printer
keyholing
oversharpening
obvious extraction
compositing without paying attention to scale and light direction & quality
unintentional distortion from wrong focal length



Remember this is a professional photography competition. Amateurs can be good at composition, design, creativity etc etc, but what should really seperate a professional from an artistic amateur is technical ability. So in a professional competition, you should be able to demonstrate that ability. That technical know how is what seperates us from someone who just likes to take snapshots and so decided that now they are a professional.

Keith

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 09:08 PM
http://i131.photobucket.com/albums/p308/imager410/TheresNoPlaceLikeHomecr.jpg

So here is a print that did well for me a couple years ago. It went loan. I think I might have gotten a Kodak or a Fuji award, I don't remember for sure. Anyway, this print does have a few things going for it, composition, light direction etc. It's certainly not a fresh or original subject or treatment. What raised it up was techincal quality. Probably not obvious here but there was detail and texture in the blacks as well as in the whitest snow. Exposure was perfect and the image jumped off the paper when it spun on the turntable. Now if it had poor composition, poor light direction, unfortunate color harmony etc, then technical excellance alone would not have been enough to raise it up to loan print level. But it was good enough across the board and then had exceptional qualities in one area. That made it go loan. (the title was also a help in creating more storytelling but I'll bring it up again when we get to that element.)

Keith

GregYager
09-05-2010, 09:43 PM
My lab is ACI. Customer service and reliability are impeccable. They do provide calibration prints and files but I've probably not put enough effort into trying to match it better. I think I'll take your advice and run test prints on all their paper surfaces and put some more time into tweaking my monitor calibration.

Now for the dumb question. What is keyholing?

Stephanie_Millner
09-05-2010, 10:07 PM
I remember that image from the NHPPA convention 2 years ago! I think one of the judges had said "The only thing wrong with this image is my name isn't on the back of it" :D

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 11:41 PM
What is keyholing?
Over vingetting or tunneling of the image.

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 11:45 PM
My lab is ACI. Customer service and reliability are impeccable. They do provide calibration prints and files but I've probably not put enough effort into trying to match it better. I think I'll take your advice and run test prints on all their paper surfaces and put some more time into tweaking my monitor calibration.

They are my lab. They have a tab on the ordering software named Free Stuff. You can order test prints from your file at no charge there. These are on E surface. You would need to call and check about a test on F or metalic or what ever.
Hope this helps.
Keith

Keith_A_Howe
09-05-2010, 11:46 PM
I remember that image from the NHPPA convention 2 years ago! I think one of the judges had said "The only thing wrong with this image is my name isn't on the back of it" :D

Thanks Stephanie

Christina_Showalter
09-07-2010, 06:18 PM
I have not entered a comp yet but am really hoping to this time. I am glad that there is a technical standard to go for. It really does separate pros from amateurs.

I've started looking at my work differently since thinking about competition. I'm considering the technical aspect more. I believe it makes a person a better photographer if they are 'being technical'.

GregYager
09-07-2010, 07:03 PM
I've been re-thinking the way I shoot as well. I'm much more aware of all of the elements in the image. Wishing I had done this years ago.

You should get a merit for these threads Keith.

Keith_A_Howe
09-07-2010, 08:42 PM
I've been re-thinking the way I shoot as well. I'm much more aware of all of the elements in the image.

It's not always about re-thinking. Sometimes it's just about being aware of the elements. It can help you understand why you are happier with your results on some images then others. Once you understand what it was you did that gave you those results, it's much easier to repeat in the future. You don't have to rely on serendipity. Also the more you understand the elements, the more instinctual it becomes. You don't really think about composition , color harmony etc, you just do it instinctually.


Noy much discussion about technical excellance going on. You guys ready to move on to another element?

Keith

GregYager
09-07-2010, 09:10 PM
Works for me. We can always come back to this one when an idea crosses our mind. (I'm still under a rock after seeing Marc's dancer images.)

Rick_Massarini
09-07-2010, 09:20 PM
If you're under a rock - bring your macro lens - bugs hang quite often...

Heather_L._Smith
09-07-2010, 09:48 PM
While I know print comp and Certification are two completely different animals, it's been very interesting to sit on the Certification Commission and see just how far off a majority of the candidates are when it comes to technical excellence. It truly feels like this is a huge piece of the puzzle that has been lost somewhere. We see it in print comp all the time, too... the "oh, I hope the judges don't notice that" syndrome.

Joe_Campanellie
09-07-2010, 11:40 PM
Yeah...over vignetting...that one will get you just about every time. One of those unwritten laws of print competition. I know when I first started competing I was looking for "the book" on the subject. I guess I was being too anal about the whole process. Most of this you just learn by competing or mentoring with those who have been successful at it.

I have relied on labs for my competition prints on and off over the years. However...if I print them myself I get exactly what I want and have nobody to blame but myself if the print has technical issues as Keith describes.

I will be curious when digital becomes an option across the board this coming year as to how many will take advantage of that and how it will affect scores when the print is taken out of the formula. Granted we still have to do everything right on the file...but we "should" have control over all those factors.

Sometimes that isn't always the case when we have to rely on an outside printing source. They do a great job but only we know what that print is supposed to look like for sure. When I took total control of the printing process my scores showed a significant increase.

GregYager
09-08-2010, 03:39 PM
What machine and paper are you printing on Joe? I've considered printing some of my own stuff again but I keep having flashbacks of being in the darkroom til 3am.

Rick_Massarini
09-08-2010, 04:49 PM
What machine and paper are you printing on Joe? I've considered printing some of my own stuff again but I keep having flashbacks of being in the darkroom til 3am.
Yeah Greg - been there... The two happiest days of your life are the day you bought your lab and the day you sold it !

Stephanie_Millner
09-08-2010, 04:56 PM
Since we're discussing it, when is technical proficiency not nearly enough for a merit? For example, I think this image (shot yesterday) is technically correct. There's good texture shown from directional light. Catchlights in the eyes. Hair and separation light. And a range of detail throughout the entire density range - blacks & whites. As far as posing is concerned, the mouth is closed, the ears are forward, and the face is tack-sharp from the scalp to the tip of the nose. There's no drool, no collar, no upturned licks of fur...But still, I wouldn't think this image would merit... There's something missing. What?

Marc_Benjamin
09-08-2010, 06:53 PM
But still, I wouldn't think this image would merit... There's something missing. What?

While technically correct , it's lacking in creativity.

Stephanie_Millner
09-08-2010, 07:04 PM
I'd say impact, moreso. Or well... here's that overlap of the elements again.

Joe_Campanellie
09-08-2010, 08:34 PM
What machine and paper are you printing on Joe? I've considered printing some of my own stuff again but I keep having flashbacks of being in the darkroom til 3am.

Greg,

Yesterday a 44" wide format HP printer was delivered and set up. Pretty incredible machine to say the least. It has a built in calibration system that is awesome. Prints out a color bar...scans it...reads it...and then calibrates the paper as well as loads a color profile into your computer. Will take a lot of the guesswork out of printing on alternate medias such as watercolor and canvas.

For my competition prints until yesterday I have two Epsons that I print on...a 3800 which will take up to 17" wide paper. And a 7800 that will print on 24" wide paper.

I use Lexjet Sunset Glossy paper and then laminate. I use the glossy surface because I feel the lustre when laminated can get a little dull due to the irregular surface. That's just my personal opinion. I know that Keith has his printed on glossy photo paper and is happy with those results.

It's all about finding a system that works for you and can give you consistent results.

GregYager
09-08-2010, 10:52 PM
Thanks for the info Joe. I do love using Epson printers with the Epson papers for my personal stuff but to be honest I've never even tried to sell an ink jet print. I think I may look into getting one like your 3800 and try my luck with it.

Joe_Campanellie
09-09-2010, 03:34 AM
Been printing client work as well as my personal and competition prints for many years now. Lots of good deals going on right now on printers if you do the research.

The HP I bought lists for over $8K with some suppliers. HP was running a special that was more than 50% off and came in at $2900 with the $800 rebate on my old printer. And the nice thing about the rebate is that I didn't have to turn my old 24" printer in so I still have that to sell yet.

Was a sweet deal...!

Joe_Campanellie
09-09-2010, 03:37 AM
Yeah Greg - been there... The two happiest days of your life are the day you bought your lab and the day you sold it !

I always enjoyed my darkroom. I guess it's the old lab rat in me. Trained by my Dad. It was a sad day when we shut it down and turned it into a dressing room. But...on the bright side there is so much more control and options with a digital darkroom.

Keith_A_Howe
09-09-2010, 03:53 AM
Steff, I agree with you. What is missing is impact. I think it might merit at a state or local level but it would be questionable on the affilaite level. The dog has a bland expression. There is nothing that tells us what the dog is thinking or looking at. Unless it's your dog or you have a dog that looks just like it, there is not an emotional connection with the viewer. A print needs to evoke some kind of emotional response to create impact. This is a very nice likeness of a dog and but it is easily forgettable. You are dead right in your own evaluation. I think if the dog's nose had been tipped down and he was looking straight at camera so there was eye contact with the viewer then it might have had that impact. But we will talk more about impact later!

Keith

Rick_Massarini
09-09-2010, 04:00 AM
There's something missing. What?

The dog seems to lack expression. He's kind of just looking at the camera, If I were on a panel, I would probably think - Ok - it's a dog - so what it's message - no endearing expression, no cute head tilt, no no dynamic movement, no interesting angles, - just straight on to the camera. Just like a person straight on to the camera - you have to have some expression there or something to make the judge stop and look a second time..

Stephanie_Millner
09-09-2010, 08:16 AM
Yep, totally agree. I actually spoke to the owner (this is a client shoot) before posting here yesterday to reshoot Mr. Nelson here. Technically sound, but lacks impact.

Did that make sense? Haven't had my coffee yet.

Heather_L._Smith
09-09-2010, 01:33 PM
Since we're discussing it, when is technical proficiency not nearly enough for a merit? For example, I think this image (shot yesterday) is technically correct. There's good texture shown from directional light. Catchlights in the eyes. Hair and separation light. And a range of detail throughout the entire density range - blacks & whites. As far as posing is concerned, the mouth is closed, the ears are forward, and the face is tack-sharp from the scalp to the tip of the nose. There's no drool, no collar, no upturned licks of fur...But still, I wouldn't think this image would merit... There's something missing. What?

I'm pretty sure you just described my entire case for nationals this year :)