Saturday, June 30, 2012

Portfolio: Finalizing and Printing

After some insightful feedback from my tutor I have decided to swap out the spring set for a new one, abandoning the pink trees in favour of a slightly more muted evocation of the season at the Olympiagelande.  I now have my final portfolio and spent the afternoon today printing them for assessment.

The portfolio has been a laborious, but valuable piece of work, I have spent many weekends in all sorts of weather, from minus 15 to plus 30, exploring the shape and form of the landscape of the Olympic Park.  I treated it as a natural follow on from Assignment 1, but limited the scope to a much smaller section of the landscape.  With the exception of 1 photograph out of the 12, all are taken in and around the stadiums and in particular the hill. This enabled me to paint a broader picture of this man made topogography, revealing more of its form but also its use.   

With spring I have tried to capture that time when the trees are just budding, when blossom still  hangs in the trees, and people start to emerge to enjoy the finer weather.  Summer in the park brings a series of weekend events ranging from the Waterski competition I have captured to motor racing in the main stadium.  Autumn brought the colour change and with it a fall in temperature reflected in the heavier clothing worn by the diners in the third shot.  Finally mid-winter saw temperatures drop to minus 15 and the landscape carpeted in frost and snow.  The first winter image also brought an opportunity to show the proximity of the hill to the city.

In the other park, the Englischer Garten, location for my 4 identical shots of the seasons, I still struggle with the summer image, the fierce sun makes for a rather washed out look, however, that really is what summer looks like here.  Without the sun there would be no people and no photo.

Here is the portfolio in completion, with the 3 new spring images

My final act in working on my portfolio is to print it.  It is only until I print an image that I can genuinely say I have a photograph and one that works.  Printing is a minefield, however, one I can now navigate with confidence.  Calibration of my monitor and the correct printing profiles have enabled me to pretty much guarantee that what I see on the screen ends up on the paper.  Given that I can manage the colour the remaining question is what paper.  I am printing everything for Landscape to A3 format as I want to ensure that the images carry the weight that I want.  For Social Documentary I may opt for A4 as that may be more appropriate for the subject, however, right now I want big, but not huge prints.  During the course I have used two different papers, Ilford Gallerie Smooth Pearl and Epson Matte - Heavyweight.  For Assignment 1 I wanted a semi gloss finish that would capture the detail of the Olympic landscape, as a result I have used the same for the portfolio for consistency.  For Assignment 2 and 3 I used the Matte paper.  The Matte paper handles the dense blacks I wanted for the B&W imagery of assignment 2, but also provided a soft finish for the muted early morning images in assignment 3.

I hope the assessors appreciate that I am trying to use the paper most appropriate to the subject matter, even thought that means changing the medium during the course.

The final question in the printing process is how to manage the placement of the photograph on the sheet.  I no longer crop images to fit the paper, I accept that my photo might not have even margins.  I also do not crop the paper physically to fit the image, this would make assessment painful as each sheet of paper might be a different size.

My strategy is to export the image from Lightroom as a 16bit Tiff (100MB file) and then create a "printable" image in Photoshop.  What I mean by printable is that I make a few late adjustments to levels and then add a white border around the photo with exactly the mm dimensions of an A3 sheet of paper, namely 410 x 297 mm.  I want a 2cm margin around the photo for handling (4cm has been suggested, but I think this too big).  First I change the image size so that the photo is 38cm wide on the longest dimension.  I then add a 2cm white border around the photo using the canvas size tool.  The final processing stage for a 3:2 aspect ratio image is to add a further 4 mm margin to the bottom of the image.  This shifts the photo up a little placing the images center of gravity slightly higher on the page, a visual trick to add weight to the image that is strongly suggested by several OCA tutors.  With the 2:1 ratio images this is slightly more difficult, I add 2cm either side and then 4cm at the top of the image.  This means that there is a 6.7cm margin on the bottom, perhaps too much, although I like the result so am sticking with it for the time being:

Not the easiest or cheapest way to present my work, but I am very happy with the results, the Epson R3000 is a very good printer and I think capable of producing gallery quality work, although my printing skills are probably no where near that level yet.  I need to do some more. research about ink jet fine art printing before I move to stage 3

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