Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Raising funds

Pretty sure I'm gonna go for at least a 24" printer with the hopes of doing some jobs on the side. Time to start putting everything I own on Craig's list to raise money!

Monday, April 23, 2007

z3100 Research turns up some issues

Looks like some serious color issues early this year...

Luminous Landscape Forum > HP Z3100 Problems with Colour Gamut

The internet is great for finding out stuff the sales guys won't tell you.
Most of those posts are from the Febuary time frame. Looks like there was some firmware updates that may have taken care of the issue.

Printing Insights #46 has a good log of issues.

What is disturbing is the feel from all the posts that HP is not recognizing the issue (or at least not being simpathetic to their costomers that just shelled out $4k for their product and now are pretty pissed) Finally found that HP had an official response.

Another thing I've been finding is that a lot of the people posting about their experience with the Z3100 have a 4000 as well, makes me think my 4000 is still well loved and deserves more attention.

Z3100 Not the answer?

Well I started getting all excited about the purchase of the HP3100 thinking of all the possibilities, that is until I called my brother to tell him my plans. He is a service manager for a prepress supply company and deals alot with HIGH END printers. Well he really put out my fire on this one say that while his company is an authorized HP dealer, they are not carrying the 3100 due the various problems tpeople are having with them. I'll need to do more research to (hopefully) disprove this but he says that every trade show its been at this year has got a Z3100 in it with an HP tech shaking his head and throwing up his hands in surrender.
He suggested that I fix the 4000 and if I wanted he'd get me the necessary parts and when I'm ready, he could throw a 7800 my way for cheap.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Home Studio

Heck, it's my only studio. And since its in my garage it's not setup very often. But every time I do set it up I try my best to learn something new. It doesn't seem like a lot, but I sure my wife thinks it plenty for a hobby I think I have enough lights but what is really on my list is more light modifiers, some barn doors, scrims, and with that epoxied floor I could use some big black drop cloths to control the light.
My backdrop is only 12' wide, which at the time I thought was plenty until I learned that I shouldn't put the subjects so close to the background or else I get too much spill from the key light on to the background. I now put my subjects about 10-12 ft in front of the background but at that distance, I run out of background pretty quickly if there is more than one or two subjects.

Easter Lighting Setup

Had some pretty pleasing results from this years studio shots so I thought I'd diagram the setup:

The main light was tweeked to get a consistent F5.6 across a wide enough area to fit the whole family and I made sure there was enough distance between subject and background to have at least a 2 stop drop in light to keep it deep black.

More Prism work

After seeing that re-profiling my printer with Prism helped the posterization of shadows I was getting using the cheap Kirkland Glossy Photo printer. I tried the same thing for my Epson Premium Luster paper, which is my perfered archival paper.
I had recently paid for a Cathy's professional profile which was fine when I got it but now was seeing the same posterization effects in the shadow areas of prints.

Creating a new profile did (PP2 - PLuster), in fact, improve the prints. So what's the deal? Is the printer color output shifting over time? My test prints show that all nozzles are firing. I'm starting to believe my brother who says its the third party inks I'm using, even though I have read people having the same issue with Epson Ink.

One to watch for now, I guess.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

My Studio

I thought that my Garage was huge when I built it, but the 30x44' space seems cramped when I set up my temporary studio in it. In order to get good separation between subject, camera, lights and backgrounds I using up about 2 1/2 bays so the cars get 'kicked out' when the 'Studio' is up. This year I had success with low key portraits using a single Photogenics 1200 with a 36x24" softbox placed about 7' out and 2-3ft left from the subject and about 8 ft high. A single reflector for fill. and my second Photogenics with a snout used as a hair light. This was evenly lighting the subject area for F5.6 and dropped off enough so the background some 11 ft. behind was 2-3 stops lower. Auto white balance on the 1dMkII seemed to have some trouble varying about 1000K from shot to shot.This kind of variation didn't seem too bad until I took a few white balance shots using an Expodisc synced the rest of the images in Adobe Lightroom which made all the difference. Gotta start using this thing more!

A sample of this session:

Epson 4000 funky shadows

Big expensive printer and I'm getting some funky things going on in the shadows

Original vs. print (Cropped)

looks like some Posterization in the shadow area. Tried to research websites for this problem most talk about inproper linerization which can't be fixed if your printing through the print driver like I am, a RIP is needed. Well RIPs are very expensive - I could buy another printer for the cost of a good RIP.

Others said its a problem with profiles/paper/media selection.

Profile Prism work

Retring the Profiling the Epson 4000 with profile prism to rid myself of some funky posterization going on in the shadow areas of prints.

First run using Kirkland Professtional Glossy Photo Paper
MIS pigment ink
Printing through QIMAGE and the Epson Driver useing the following settings
- Epson Premium SemiGloss paper selected
- 1440 fine dpi
- nothing checked
- No color correction

Profiled using the 'bright' target reccommended for Epson printers
Initial software settings:
Normal brightness, contrast, saturation and Metamerism set to off.
First results:
Exposure: proper (230)
WB: Excellent (1%)
LV:Excellent (5%)
2 patches cliped
SD:Excelent to grey patches clipped.
Exposure: 228
2 patches clipped.


A bit better and the colors over all are better.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Damn Epson 4000

Arrgh!! Look at this has been my life with a used Epson 4000. While I got this printer for free, I've put about $600 in ink in it so far and I'd say a majority of it has gone into the maintenance tank doing head cleanings. The more research I do on the web find that this is one of the 'facts of life' when living with an Epson Pigment Ink printer.
The output is wonderful when it's working. I though I could just go back to printing my work at Costco on their photographic Frontier printers but after several side by side comparisons, the output of these inkjets just really blow away the best results I got from Costco.
What to do? Well I saw an amazing printer, a HP Z3100 printer - 12 ink colors, 4 specifically for B&W prints, a miser on ink, it self-analyzes the heads for clogs, cleans only the heads that are clogged and, get this, if it can't clear the nozzle it activates backup nozzles to fill in. If things get really messed up, the heads are user replaceable. Now the bad part, The thing is $3800! Way too much for a hobbyist like me, so I'm thinking I better start a little side business to subsidize this purchase. Gonna look into it.