New Scanner – CanoScan 9000F

Clients can bring about upgrades. I have a small restoration job and that means using a scanner.   I had an old Microtek and old HP scanner but they are no longer supported under Vista 64 nor Win7.  They sit in boxes marked donate to Goodwill.   I gave up restoration jobs a few years ago when some company started an off-shore India photo restoration business and charged customers about 1/200th of my rate.  I think they went out of business as I can’t find a current reference to them – ah…the Internet business world.

Looking for scanner reviews is tough.  Scanners don’t come out often and there are not a lot of current review sites.  CNET’s most recent scanner review was dated 2007.

I bought a Canon Canoscan 9000F.  This may finally replace my very old Polaroid film scanner (which has been sitting in a box with it’s SCSI card for 3 years).  Haha.

Here are the reviews that swayed me:

http://blog.shutterbug.com/davidbrooks/preview_new_canoscan_9000f_silverfast/

http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/CS9000/9000F.HTM#con

I bought it at Buy.com.  it was $221.87 with free shipping.   I’m sure it will be cheaper by Christmas.

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Printing Prints

Printing can be for the birds

Printing can be for the birds

Printing your own stuff is expensive. It is actually VERY expensive, but it gives you complete control.  If you have prints made they can also get pricy.  Here is what I do with prints I make and how I figured out how much it costs to print and mat photographs.

I make a fair number of test prints when I get a new paper.  I also fire off a test print when I start a new roll of paper to compare it to prior tests.  I try not to print large  full-size prints as test prints as that gets to be really expensive. Test prints are just that and are handled roughly and written on and sometimes trashed. It’s also handy to have af ew lying around to show customers, telling them “handle it all you want, it’s a mistake print”.  I do keep color printer test prints around to compare them when I use a new paper.

I currently own an Epson 2200 which I used for 12×18″ prints on 13×19 paper but  I recently got a Canon iPF5100 which uses up to 17″ rolls of paper.  This printer is a big step up from the 2200.  I can quantify ink costs but a replacement set of inks for the Epson is 75 bucks whereas the Canon runs around 900 dollars.  I know this is an apples and oranges comparison and I know my actual ink cost per print goes way down.  The ink per print costs is only part of the overall print cost as I’ll discuss in a bit.

Papers are like wines, they each have special characters and the ones I use are based on my personal preference. I like the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 310 GSM (Grams/Square Meter) for color art prints on matte paper.  For a little more texture  I also like Somerset Velvet PE (Photo Enhanced)  Canon and Epson both market a version under their respective labels.  For a lot more texture I haven’t used, but I’d like to try the German Etching (310 gsm) or Museum Etching (350 gsm).  I like thick paper.  I like the feel of it in my hands, it is less prone to kinking, it flattens well.  I generally don’t have to mount it for sizes 16×20 and under.  For black and white work I’ve become enamored with the baryta papers.  I really like the surface and the slight smell when I open up a box reminds me working in old ‘wet’ darkrooms.

Once a final print is made it gets to dry for at least one day in the open or hung up (depending upon size).  I will sometimes interleave the prints with a sheet of  rag paper and place some matboard over them then some weights to help flattening.  Do not move rattle or shake the prints as they are very prone to scuffing – Not as much an issue on the baryta paper.   Generally once a week I will take all the prints out and give them coatings of PremierArt Print Shield.   This stuff seems to work and only adds a few cents(8×10) to a buck (20×30) to your expensive print.  It also helps flatten the prints which is a huge benefit when printing from roll stock.

After a few hours or a few days of storage flat in a storage cabinet I’ll take the prints add a piece of matboard or acid-free foamcore and bag up the print into a Clearbag. I only use the Bainbridge Artcare Archival foam board or Bienfang 100% Cotton Rag Foam Board.  I use both depending upon what I can get for a good price. You can use a 4-ply rag for backing, but that is both expensive and the foamcore is better because it is lighter and stiffer.

For matboard I greatly prefer the Bainbridge Alpharag boards to the Crescent rag board as I see small surface defects once in a while in the Crescent product.  If I have to buy a sheet or a few sheets of it at Michael’s or Jerry’s Artarama then I can inspect each board.  If I’m buying a case, which is what I normally do, then I get the Bainbridge.   I will only use rag (100% cotton) board as anything else isn’t archival.  Acid-free does not equal archival.  I’d suggest finding a local wholesale framing supply shop to get stuff.  The one in Austin will wholesale to photographers if you buy in bulk.  The best prices and biggest selection I’ve found for framing and matting supplies is UMS – United Mfrs Supplies at http://www.unitedmfrs.com I also use http://www.framingsupplies.com/ and http://www.atlex.com/

Just FYI: I use a cheapo Logan Mat cutter.  I have the older version of this one:
http://www.framingsupplies.com/Logan/Logan%20301S%20Mat%20Cutter.htm
While I buy blades in bulk (I go through a lot of blades cutting dense rag mats – you should too) it is nice to know that I can get blades for this cutter at lots of places.

I get bags from Clearbags.  They make a good product and prices are reasonable. They also sell lots of kits and products that make packaging work easy and good-looking.  I buy clear bags in 4 sizes.  8×10, 11×14, 13×19 and 20×24.  I use the 20×24 bags for 16×20 prints.  These bags are barely large enough to accomodate a 4-ply mat plus print plus 3/16th foamcore.   I find this is a great way to presenting prints.  Clearbags can be found here: http://www.clearbags.com/

What’s does this all cost?  About 10 bucks for each print that I mat to 16×20.

Here’s the worksheet:

Fixed Costs
Matt cutter $ 100.00
other shop accessories $ 200.00
$ 300.00
Mats size
100 16×20
Variable Costs
Mat board (4 ply rag) precut $ 3.50
Tape and supplies $ 1.00
Backing Board precut $ 2.00
Clear Bags $ 0.50
$ 7.00 $ 700.00
Total Costs $ 1,000.00
Cost per Matted Presentation $ 10.00

Now the cost per mat/backing/spray/bag package is averaged over the entire run of 100 mats.  If you make 200 mats then it’s $8.50/mat,  500 mats cost about $7.60/mat.  I’m not sure how many mats I can get out of my inexpensive cutter but 500 mats seems like a lot and then I’ll need to replace it.

Getting mat and related supply prices is fairly straight forward,whereas determining your print costs is not.

Your print cost is more involved.  The best way to measure your costs it to keep a record of ink and paper purchases.  If you have a lot paper on hand then just inventory that and add to that list as you buy paper over a year. Note the amount of ink when you do inventory too.  Same story for ink.  Then at the beginning of each year figure out how much material goes through the printer.

Ink Costs.

I’ll say it runs about 1 cent per square inch of paper printed.  There are lots and lots of articles abut ink cost. After three hours researching and reading of articles on this I averaged lots of estimates I came to this approximate cost.  Yes, it is expensive.  Yes, it is HIGHLY profitable for the printer companies. People need to make a profit and selling printers for 30 bucks isn’t profitable.  They can give away the printers (razors) as long as you will keep buying the ink (blades).

Paper Costs.

This is much easier to quantify than ink costs.

I buy a roll of paper for 100 bucks. That includes tax and shipping.  The roll is 17 inches wide by  x 50 feet long. That is 10,200 square inches of paper and that works out to about 1 cent per square inch.  Hahnemuhlepapers run about 1.5 cents per square inch.  That’s a 50% increase in cost!

Let’s look at my ink and paper costs for running a roll of paper through the printer:

Canon Polished Rag at $110 for a 50′ roll ($110+ ($0.01 * 10,200) = $212

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Papers $140 for a 39′ roll = ($140 + ($0.01 *7956) = $219.56

Now divide the Cost by the the number of feet in a roll results in

Canon Polished Rag  $212/50′ = $ 4.24 / Linear Foot  or about  $3 sq.ft.

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Papers $220/39 = $5.64 / Linear Foot or about $4 sq.ft.

My favorite place to get paper is either at http://www.booksmartstudio.com/ or from the local camera store, Precision Camera.  Precision will order  anything I want.  Often, I can get it quicker from Booksmart Studio.  These guys also really know there stuff.

So what does a print cost?

Depends.

I’ll make some assumptions.

Instead of thinking about what I make it is easier for me to think about what I waste. As I waste less than I print (or at least I want to think so!).

you will waste between 15 and 25% of your paper.  This is edges of paper, test prints, left over pieces from rolls…you get the idea.

you can figure this a bunch of ways.  I’ll take a simple approach using a 25% waste factor

If printed Canon Polished Rag is  $3 sq.ft. before waste now after waste of 25% it is $3 for 3/4 sq.ft or $4.00 / sq.ft… 1/3rd more.

Printed Hahnemuhle Fine Art  $4.00 sq.ft. now becomes $5.34 / sq.ft.

Printing on HFA 11 x14 is 1.07 sq. ft., 1.07 * $5.34 =$5.71

Printing on Canon11 x14 is 1.07 sq. ft., 1.07 * $4.00 =$4.28

This does not include the cost of the printer so lets figure that in now!

Here’s the worksheet:

Fixed Costs
Printer $ 1800.00
other shop accessories $ 200.00
$ 2000.00
prints size
500 11×14
Variable Costs
Printed 11×14 photos Canon Paper 250 $ 4.28 $ 1070
Printed 11×14 photos HFA Paper 250 $ 5.71 $ 1428
Total Print Costs $ 4,498.00
Cost per print at 500 prints $ 9.00

Now we know that

Cost per print at 500 prints   $ 9.00

Matting cost per 500 prints   $ 7.60

Print and Matted Cost   $ 16.60

More assumptions.

  • All material costs stay the same over time.
  • Depreciation  / Tax calculations are not considered. (a buck is not always a buck but fur us photographers it is)
  • this is only 500 11×14 prints using a printer that should be able to print many thousands. The more you print the less your per print cost becomes as you are allocating the cost of the printer over all of the prints you make with that printer.

Some tips:

Always assume that costs are higher than you calculated (opps! we forgot to include the cost of electricity to run the printer!)

Always assume that profits are not as great at you think (oh yeah, we discount our stuff 20% at Christmastime)

BOTTOM LINE

Maybe you just scrolled here to see the results, okay, here it is.

Inclusive costs (fixed and variable costs)  in prints for:

  • Cheaper paper 2.5 cents per square inch.
  • Expensive paper 3.5 cents per square inch.

Matting costs are above.

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Yes Virginia, I am a Food Photographer too.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Shameless plug: If you are a possible commercial client please contact me to discuss shooting your food / establishment.

It has been darn cold here in Austin.  With record lows not seen in decades and some new records set in the last few days.  I’ve also been out shooting in it at night, outside. Brrr.

So when life gives me the proverbal lemons (in the form of really cold weather)  I make French Onion Soup.  I make a lot of it.  Somewhere between 3-4 gallons of the stuff.  It’s more like onion stew with a light soup base and lots of onions.  It also take at least 6 hours to make and it makes the place smell great.

A friend in Nevada wants to see this so I take pic, toss it into post to clean it up, and here it is.

  • The oven is really dirty but the dirty racks help keep the reflections down – a benefit.
  • Single strobe, w/ stofen, using Nikon CLS,  -1.3 ev.
  • Strobe is just ahead and to the top left of the lens.
  • Shot with a d300s, Tamron 17-50mm dx lens at 32mm, iso 200, f/10, 50th sec.
  • The red towel, which was in actual use was added to the front of the rack to cover up some of the rack and to balance the image.

How to make this:

  • 3 liters of cheap white wine, and a bottle of good stuff for the cook.
  • 10 pounds of white or sweet white onions. (Texas Sweet Onions are the best!)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Soup stock (chicken or veggie or both)
  • Water
  • Spare veggies sitting in the fridge.
  • Spices ( a touch of oregano and garlic are nice)
  • Large loaf of bread, baguette or sourdough loaf.
  • Two types of cheese.  About a pound or more.  More is good.  Today it was Jarlesburg and Gouda.  If you only have one type of cheese then eating this will be more exciting as you will have stringy melted cheese to deal with!  Using two or more different types of cheese cuts the stringiness.  No Velveta or cheddar.

Get your stock going. You know how to make stock or read the label.  I don’t like the cubes and prefer the “Better than Boullion” brand of stocks.

Make about 8 quarts of stock to start with.  Today I make it with half chicken and half veggie stock. Toss in all the almost expired veggies in your fridge into the stock and anything else that inspires you.  Today it was green beens and carrots.

Get that boiling mildly for about 2-4 hours stiring ocassinally. When the stock is reduce about a 1/3 add your 3 liters of white wine to it and let it go another hour or two at a mild boil.

Onions: Slice them up. Rinse, peel,  and place in favorite onion cutting device.  Using a Cuisinart is almost a necessity unless you can get somone to evenly slice 10 pounds.  I’ve done it by hand, yuck.  As you slice the onions place them into a very large stock pot.  After the first couple pounds are sliced add 1/2 cup of honey to add a little sweetness and to really help the carmalization process along.   Place on medium to medium-low heat and don’t burn them.  If you do, remove the burn pieces and lower the heat.  It will take about 4-5 hours to reduce a pot brimming with sliced onions down to a large cantelope ball of creamy. carmelized onions.  This is not a fast recipe.

Go have a glass of wine.

Grate the cheese.  If you are using a very soft gouda or other soft cheese toss it in the freezer for 20 minutes before grating.  Place the grated cheese in the fridge until ready to use.

Stir stuff ocassionally. Don’t burn the onions!

After 4-6 hours place a strainer over the nicely carmelized onions and strain the stock into the onion pot.

Add spices here if desired.

Toss (or compost) the contents of the strainer.

Get the whole mixture to a mild boil then turn it off, cover and let it cool for a little while.

Slice the bread if needed – around 1/2 inch is good.  Toast the bread on both sides, you want it dry but still a tiny bit soft.  If it’s brittle it will still work.  Sure. you could have done this after grating the cheese too.

Working with some deep corning ware or similar deep casserole-type dishes layer about 1/3-1/2 with the soup.  Loosely cover in a layer of toasted bread and sprinkle a tiny bit of cheese on the toast.  repeat with another layer of soup.  Save room at the top for another layer of toast and a nice solid layer of cheese.

Repeat for other containers.  If you have shallower dishes then don’t do the middle layer of toast.

Now you have a bunch of containers of soup.

Set oven to 325.  Bake covered for about 25 minutes , then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops of cheese are  bubbly and slightly browned.  See pic  :-)

If you have removed this from the fridge, then give it 45-50 minutes in the oven covered,  then uncover for another 10-15 minutes.

Remove and let cool at least 10 minutes.  These will be HOT.  The cheese acts as a blanket.

I put two in the freeze one in the fridge and one in the oven.  Thaw at least a full day in the warmer part of your fridge then bake as instructed.

Enjoy!

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Trey Ratcliff, HDR, Kittens, The Austin Photography Group

You kill a kitten every time you make a bad HDR image.

You kill a kitten every time you post a bad HDR image.

Blog post should be succinct and limited in scope. I’ll try. No promises.

The Austin Photography Group holds a meeting the second Sunday of every month here in Austin. Their meetup website: http://www.meetup.com/photo-438/ I’ve been wanting to go for months and I finally did. It was worthwhile.

Trey Ratcliff, fellow Austinite, HDR guru, the man behind stuckincustoms.com, author of a new book on HDR and all around nice guy presented HDR stuff at the meeting.

Until I saw this I was a firm believer that a kitten dies every time you make an HDR photo. Now, I just believe that a kitten dies every time you post a BAD HDR photo. I recall that Trey used the term ‘amped’ in his presentation. I’ll stick with bad. If it’s amped then I don’t like it because I find it bad and you have killed a kitten.

Bad photographs, whether HDR or not, will be bad, and good ones will be good.  The problem is HDR is in it’s fad state now and it’s pretty easy to take a bad-to-mediocre photo and turn it into an ‘amped’ up POS.  HDR has been around a long time.  The idea of compressing a full  range  image into a print  was codified by Ansel Adams and his zone system.

In a nutshell: HDR is a processing tool that can assist in creating an image that better represents what the photographer saw / envisioned in the scene.   Like any processing tool it can also be put to really bad use and take out lots of kittens along the way.

Trey has killed his share of cute furry creatures. There are probably some bad HDR pics in the book, I don’t know as I haven’t read it, but the book is for learning and it is important to share and learn from mistakes.

Just keep them off of Flickr.

If you are intersted in HDR photography then head over to stuckincustoms.com and read and practice using his free HDR tutorial.

Save the kittens!

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Lone Star Beer Can White Balance (Wonkish)

Summary: I’ve added a new body to my street bag.  The color is different between body models.  While color-correcting images I found that the white found on a can of Lone Star Beer is a very convenient way to do a quick white-balance correction in Adobe Bridge.

I’ve been shooting all Nikon D3oo bodies last year.  [...]

Happy New Year

No So Happy New Year's Eve

One of the pics I’m not sending to my editor over at Austin360.com.   It was a pretty quiet night for cops on 6th Street as far as I could tell.

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New Year's Resolution

Sushi from one of my cleints – DK Sushi – Yum!

Okay. I’ve been busy. Between working F/T for myself AND going to grad school (again) and taking on a P/T job to pay for grad school I just don’t get over to this blog very often.
So one of my resolutions is to [...]

Happy christmahanukwanzaakah!

Austin's 37th Street Christmas Light Display

and Festivus too

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Testing adding flash slideshows to Wordpress

This post has two parts and I’m mixed then up.

First:  you can easily product simpleviewer slideshows directly form Photoshop.   grab the scripts from: Creating a SimpleViewer gallery with Photoshop

Second:  you can easily incorporate slideshow made from Photoshop, or Lightroom or Bridge into WordPress.

I’m a big fan of simpleviewer but until today I had not got [...]

How to make 'TEA'

I’m working on my MFA and the best part of the program, so far, is that it forces me to do work I generally don’t do.  I get to be a little more…well…artistic!

So here  is the first image I created for an assignment:

Lighting is so-so…let me try some different lighting.

It’s okay. I don’t like [...]