Singular Images

March 20, 2019

LACP: 24 inch wide Canon Pro-2000 printer training

Filed under: Memory pods, Photography, Workshops — Tags: , — Douglas Stockdale @ 2:06 pm

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Untitled, Memory Pods copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale

Last night I attended the LACP (Los Angeles Center of Photography) training class in their printing laboratory to learn the basics on how to use their 24″ wide Canon Pro-2000 printer. This is a wide-format printer that is available to LACP members (small fee; time plus nominal ink use cost), but they do require that you first go through their printer training class to reduce the amount of time that the staff might need to support any users. Interesting that LACP actually has two 24″ wide Canon printers, an older one and the latest Pro-2000; seems that the older one is on the side-lines gathering dust.

My purpose for learning and using the LACP Canon Pro-2000 is two fold; I want to become more familiar with this printer as a pending investment for the studio and second, I want to use the LACP printer to create a portfolio of larger print images for the Memory Pods project pending buying my own studio printer.

The training was led by Eric Joseph, who is part of the Freestyle photo supply team and their printing specialist as well as a board member of LACP. To say that he knows a lot about printers and printing paper is an understatement.

So what were my take-aways?

First; LACP has some unique requirements for digital files for their printers; the collapsed file needs to be in either a JPEG or TIFF format and regretfully the sample file I brought with me was a PhotoShop (.psd) file). The print lab has a number of Mac’s with PhotoShop loaded, so I probably could have quickly created a new TIFF file on the spot, but content to watch the others print. Also did learn that the monitors might have been color calibrated at one time, but not maintained. Eric had created 40 printer/paper profiles for this printer, so most of the usual combinations were ready.

Two; I needed to download the Canon Print Studio Pro printer software for my Pro-1. This is also the recommended Canon printer interface recommended for the LACP print lab. So I am in the process of this task as I need to get this download into the proper PhotoShop plug-in folder. Probably more about this another day. Also evident that a good monitor and printer profile can really make a huge difference in the printed results.

Three; before I start investing in some 24″ rolls of printing paper at $140 to $200 per roll, I need to  profile the papers I am interested in for my Pro-1 and do some print testing with some less expensive 8-1/2 x 11″ sheet paper. First on my list is the Hahnemuhle PhotoRag Pearl (100% cotton rag), a Glossy FineArt paper that I used for my Middle Ground project. Eric stated that the Canon Pro-1 is a pigment ink printer but the pigment inks are not exactly the same as the Canon Pro-2000 printer, but close enough to what I achieve in my studio should appear almost exactly the same on the larger LACP printer.

Last, if I can find a space for it, Eric recommends that I purchase the Canon Pro-4000 which is the 44″ wide printer. He was preaching to the choir. I would really, really prefer purchasing a 44″ wide printer over a 24″ wide printer; but my studio is pretty small. hmmmmm, so what to do? Since I am not ready to purchase either for the next few months, a question I can continue to mull over. What I have learned is that where this is a will, there is a way; now I need to figure out the way.

About this photograph from my Memory Pods project; this is another image that was featured earlier this week in my Voyage LA magazine article. I posted another version of this same photograph with a completely different appearance. Later after showing this earlier version to a group I then had a discussion with a friend who had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and his recall experience was more about having a general “fuzziness” when trying to remember specific details. I discussed this with a couple of others who had mild TBI who talked about something similar in experience; thus a re-work of this photograph that might better visually investigate their experiences.

Cheers!

March 12, 2019

Canon Pro-1 color icc profiles

Filed under: Memory pods, Photography, Projects/Series — Tags: , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 3:46 pm

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Untitled, (Memory Pods), 2015 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Day two of installing my Canon Pro-1 printer and after getting the basics in place as I wrote about yesterday, the next step was creating the color profiles (icc profiles) for my printing papers. I am starting with my basic proofing paper. This involved creating my first paper color profile with the X-Rite i1 studio color management system, something I had not performed before.

As to my basic proofing paper, I am leaning towards the Canon Photo Plus Semi-gloss to start with. It appears to provide sufficient contrast and color luminosity without the high glossy reflections. The resulting print is just visually pleasing in my hands. Later this week I will print some 13 x 19″ prints to see how these images and paper look under some Halogen gallery lights.

As to the first icc profile I developed with the i1, let’s just say it was eventful. My biggest complaint is that very large dial on the i1 is not that easy to grasp and rotate to set the appropriate setting without sometime inadvertently hitting the exposure button in the middle of this device. It just takes a little bit of practice, which the i1 in its own way helped to provide. Nevertheless, I printed the two color swatch pages, scanned these with the i1 and finalized the icc profile for the Photo Plus Semi-gloss paper. Overall, an easy process, but does take a little time as X-Rite recommends a 10 minute drying time for each test print before the scanning process.

Once the new icc profile was named and saved; then onward to the final printing test. After opening Photoshop, uploading my test image (Memory Pods) from yesterday’s post, then finding the new icc for the printer profile, I proceeded to print my first image.

Bingo! What a difference a nice icc printer profile makes! The resulting print was a match to what I had on my monitor. And a really big difference to what I printed without a icc profile. So probably no big news, but using a color calibration system and creating color profiles to coordinate what’s on your monitor with what gets printed works really nice. In the past, I would add a curve (adjustment) layer to the image file in PhotoShop to make the necessary printing adjustments and I would need to print three or four versions to finally dial in my print. Regretfully the curve adjustment layer process is not very effective with making any color adjustments and that requires another adjustment layer for color balance, thus making the printing process a lot more complex and tedious.

Now with the icc profile in place the very first print is spot on. I think that this is where the i1 color management process really shines.

Yesterday I also stated that the back paper feed (not the top paper feed) was not working. So I received some feedback off-line from my post and appears that this is an issue with the Canon Pro-1 printer; it is just a bit fussy.  The back paper feed needs at least 3 or 4 sheets of paper, make sure the guides are not tightly holding the paper, glossy paper is the most fussy, and to keep the in-feed rollers clean. So I have a little bit more to do to get this paper feed to work. Meanwhile, the top paper feed works fine.

Life is good.

One of my consignment projects is printing the stiff-cover book covers for a small limited edition book. With the icc profiles now in place I completed this print job last night and the resulting prints are now dry and ready for binding. These prints look great. Did I mention that life is good?

Regarding the Memory Pods image above, it’s a slight departure from most of the body of work and a progression in my Memory Pods project. Most of my project focuses on just one subject, perhaps similar to a portrait. I have been looking at some of past images in consideration of making a juxtaposition of two objects and now that might visually investigate a relationship. This is the first one that I think creates the visual narrative I was interested in creating; foreground is well defined while a similar shape and subject is in the background shadows with both just joining together on the bottom edge of the print. I created a black border to better define the print edges. The edge treatment is something I am also experimenting with as to how this might change the narrative of the image.

It is very nice to be back printing again. And I think I like this Pro-1; thus after 15 years using a variety of Epson printers, I have made the conversion to Canon printers. This printer appears to be a keeper.

Cheers!

Doug

March 11, 2019

Canon Pro-1 printer in the studio

Filed under: Memory pods, Photography — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 8:47 pm

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Memory Pods, March 2015 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Yes, there is a slightly used Canon Pro-1 printer now sitting in the studio. The Epson 4800 is in the storage area pending a posting on Craig’s List, which will also includes a new in-the-box 220ml Photo Black ink cartridge. The Canon Pro-1 is only 13″ wide but utilizes the Canon pigment ink, versus the dye for the currently available Canon Pro-10. My goal is to proof on the Pro-1 printer and then up size to a 24″ Canon printer which uses the same pigment ink. At the moment, I plan to use the 24″ Canon printer in the LACP photo-lab located in Hollywood. That will be another story!

I picked the used Pro-1 printer up in L.A. this weekend and as stated by Ryan, it certainly did require some new ink cartridges; seven of these were needed to get the printer up and running. Between the local Sammy’s Camera in Costa Mesa and Pro-Photo-Connection in Irvine; done. I had already downloaded the Pro-1 printer driver to the iMac, so that essential part was completed.

Once the new inks were installed, the printer appeared to be ready. From past experience with the Epson, and to be a bit conservative, I ran a head cleaning first. done. I had also purchase some Canon Photo Plus Semi-gloss paper as I had a ton of Epson papers that I had collected over the past fifteen years, but no Canon paper. Again, from past experience, I knew that Canon would provide color profiles (icc) for their papers and printer and not really incentified to provide the icc profiles for any Epson papers.

For the printer color management testing I am using the image from my Memory Pods project above. I had used an old sheet of Kodak Soft Gloss just to make sure the the feed and printer were working okay; at the moment the rear paper feeder does not seem to know that the paper is there and I keep getting an error message. Meanwhile the top feed appears to work fine, so I will come back to why the rear paper feed is not working later as I really need to have a good quality printer working as soon as possible. The colors for the Kodak paper were really out of whack and much lower in contrast compared to the image that is on my recently color calibrated monitor.

Regretfully the Canon paper did not appear a whole lot better for the color comparison but the contrast was pretty close. Fortunately I recently purchased the X-Rite i1 studio color management system which works with both a monitor and a printer. So for the rest of the day it appears that I will be creating some color profiles for this printer and some of the papers I intend to use. Let’s see if I can get quickly obtain a really close match.

If it is not one thing, it’s another.

I do have a printing project to get completed for my Medium Photo workshop later this month, so nothing like a dead-line to create some inspiration, but a least at this stage of the game, no stress (yet!).

Cheers!

Doug

September 26, 2018

Mystery on the Plano Trabuco – Buzzards circling

Filed under: Photography, Projects/Series, Trabuco Flats Mystery — Tags: , , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 10:59 pm

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Buzzards, Mystery on the Plano Trabuco 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale

In the Southwest the sight of circling buzzards is not a good omen as it foretells of something that might be dying or perhaps already passed on to its afterlife. I realized that an image of circling buzzards would make a great image for my Mystery on the Plano Trabuco as representative of something dark and forbidding, so I have been on the lookout for such an aerial event.

Although the image above is in line with my visual quest, the subject of this post is about something else that appears to be on the ropes and might be dying; my Epson Pro 4800 printer. Perhaps interesting that the day I sighted and photographed this circling group of buzzards when I returned to my studio, my Epson 4800 started going sideways. First it locked up with a Service code in which the printer appeared to be demanding some respect that was related to a “memory” issue; the net discussion with the Epson technical services folks over a three hour span.

Next the trailing half inch of the prints were printing incomplete; with both banding and then the printing ceased part way on the image at the back edge of the paper as it comes off the printer. The recommendation from the Epson tech was to turn off the fast print option, but regretfully it was not even on. This print issue was occurring whether the print was small at 8 x 7 on 8-1/2 x 11″ paper or a 16 x 20″ image on a 17 x 22″ sheet. sigh.

In one sense, I will have to admit that this printer has been pretty decent for the past 13 years IF I rule out the constant ink plugging and need to go through countless head cleaning cycles. Which has soured me a bit on an Epson replacement. I have had a bunch of folks state that the new Epson’s do not have this issue any more, but there are a few others that state that it just occurs a lot less often. 13 years ago Canon was seriously getting into the printer game and it now appears that Canon has a great set of printers and many of my friends have made the switch.  So Canon is now on my radar. If I made the recent switch from PC to iMac, perhaps I could make the change from 20+ years of Epson to Canon.

Meanwhile, back in the studio I have taken the advice of some Facebook friends to use a power vacuum to clean the beast’s internal workings and then I ran the print alignment diagnostic again. Good News! This combination has seemed to do the trick to fix the printing issue; no banding or print fall off on the 8-1/2 x 11″ paper, so next is to tempt fate and print a large image at 16 x 20″ on a full sheet of 17 x 22″. So for the short term it appears that the printer is working but I still have big time concerns. I know that I have a little bit of time to do my homework on it’s replacement, but the clock is ticking. Tick. Tock.

Maybe even time to consider a 24″ wide big brother printer.

This is pretty much like when I was a kid driving an old clunker car and never knowing when the wheels might fall off. So pretty sure I am now on borrowed time, because as I look up, the buzzards are still circling my studio.

Cheers,

Doug

 

April 7, 2018

Canon 24-105mm lens test revelation

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 8:30 pm

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detail (100% magnification), Canon 24-105mm L f/4 lens, at 105mm at f/9 copyright Douglas Stockdale

Last Friday I had found myself in the local Canon Service shop in Costa Mesa regarding some issues with the bottom left corner of my images and was informed that I need the flange back repaired for my 5D Mark 3. sigh. I picked up the “adjusted” body yesterday (Note: next to me was a guy with a sad face as he was just informed that his 5D Mark ? needed the same repair. He was also holding a big 300mm prime lens. Canon crappy camera design and construction strikes again) so this morning I decided to perform a quick camera check on my adjusted body, just to make sure everything is okay.

I mounted my 5DMk3 on a tripod and then set the aperture to f/9 to make sure that the lens was stopped down enough so that a narrow focus would not be an issue. My first test was my Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens; results exhibit nice sharpness edge to edge, image below. Appears my flange back adjustment is fine. Then being a curious cat, I then mounted what I suspect was the bad-boy lens that created the flange back to go out of alignment, my “heavy” 23 oz Canon 24-105mm L f/4 lens. Similar to the 50mm f/1.4, I set the f/9 for exposures for the 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 70mm and 105mm focal length tests.

At the 24mm, 35mm and the 50mm focal lengths exposures, excellent edge to edge image sharpness (bottom, below). My surprise was the amount of  corner softness that occurred at 70mm (below) at 100% magnification, now more like “average/poor” and even more corner softness at the 105mm focal length (above) bordering on “poor/unacceptable”. I am guessing on first looking at the image below that these might all look acceptable, but when making 16×20″ prints or larger, the corner softness starts to become more noticeable.

I have had the Canon 24-105mm lens (purchased new) since I acquired my used Canon 5D in 2010. I had never tested this lens out since the initial images on my monitor appeared fine. I usually am composing with something in the 24 to 50mm focal length, so probably unknowingly I was in the sweet zone for this particular lens. On a couple of occasions I composed using a focal length between the 70 to 105mm range for some informal portraits, but now remember being a bit disappointed that the images appeared a bit soft. Since portraits are not my usual thing, I just kept moving on, also I did not think I would use a 100mm prime lens that much to make an investment.

Bummer about the Canon 24-105mm lens results. So this lens is now sitting on the storage shelf as I contemplate selling it, while the 50mm f/1.4 is on the 5DMk3 (camera on it’s back with the lens straight up, no off-center weight on the flange back). As potential replacements for the 24-105mm I am thinking of a lighter Canon 35mm f/2 (prime) lens and a Canon EF 100mm macro f/2.8 (prime) lens. I all ready have a Canon 17-40mm L lens (which I have not test yet, but think I will sometime soon) so I have the 24-35mm focal lengths covered. For the 100mm macro, I need to consider if I want the heavier L lens which now has the IS (Image Stabilization) feature, although only 1 oz difference in weight it’s not really much difference. The 100mm macro lens is close to the weight of the Canon 24-105mm lens, so I would need to be careful how I carry it when it’s mounted on the camera body, or just mount it when I need it.

No more trips back to Canon to repair the flange back again! I hope you enjoyed my morning in the back yard.

Cheers!

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full frame (above), 24-105mm lens at 105 mm focal length and f/9

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full frame (above), 24-105mm lens at 70mm focal length and f/9

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full frame (above), 24-105mm lens at 35mm focal length and f/9

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full frame (above), 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/9

March 31, 2018

Canon 5D Mark 3 – Flange back repair (again)

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 12:04 am

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Bottom left corner detail 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale

I recently left my Canon 5D Mark 3 body at the Canon Service center in Costa Mesa for repair of the “flange back”, which the camera technicians stated was the reason for my latest series of crappy-corner images. Latest, in as this is the same image issue I had with my earlier Canon 5D (the original 5D).

The image issue is that that apparently something tweaks the “flange back” interface on the camera body, the interfaces with the camera lens mount, in such a manner that the sensor plane is out of alignment with the lens focus point. The image artifact, photo above, is a slightly soft out of focus region within the image capture. Regretfully, this is a really small area on an 8 x10″ image and for me, not noticeable until you decide to make 16 x 20″ prints, and especially when you make 30 x 40″ prints.

The Canon camera tech tells me that I must have dropped the camera (nope, did not do this), use a really big lens (rarely use my 70-200mm L lens) as I almost exclusively have the 24-105 mm L lens on the 5Dmk3, or maybe just a lot of weight by a lens on the camera over time. Okay, so for the later, I carry the 24-105 mm L lens on my 5DMk3 for long duration’s on my shoulder as I walk-about. Now the 24-105 mm L lens is the “kit” lens that Canon likes to sell/push for the Canon 5D series bodies. So what I am to understand, the 5D series of bodies is not designed or built to carry their kit lens for long durations. WTF!

Oh yes, this is not a warranty issue, so this little repair is costing me 219 bucks. Canon wants me to bring in the 24-105 lens to make sure it’s not tweaked either. For the earlier fix of my Canon 5D, there were other shutter issues as well, so Canon replaced the shutter and adjusted the flange back that time under warranty; no cost to me. But NOT this time; I am guessing from their perspective I must have done something wrong. I am now guessing that Canon sees a lot of these flange back issues (first thing that the tech stated could be the problem).

Reminds me of the commercial of the car needing repair regarding the insure company; maybe I have the wrong camera system. Mind you, I have been using Canon camera equipment for over 30 years, but this is more than two strikes as I have a ton of crappy corner images to show for it, both from my Ciociaria project (2 and half years back and forth to Italy, 3,500 + images, with the 5D), and now the Middle Ground project, as I find this corner issue going back to October 2016 for a project that I thought is complete (a year and half of work, 2,000 + images) and currently working with a printer to self-publish a photobook in the next couple of months. Again; WTF!!

I have not seen any alerts from Canon to be watching for this issue with this camera body and lens combination (have you??). Second, this defect is not something I notice until I make some big enlargements and I do not create these until later in the project development. The sample photo with this post is a big enlargement of the corner and even then, not really apparent. So if I stay with Canon, I am assuming that they expect me to continually monitor the corners to ensure that their crappy designed camera is still okay to use. Also assumes that once Canon fixes this, it’s permanent fix, but now I am doubting that; so if I keep this rig, I need to be constantly monitoring my photos for potential camera equipment defects. I would rather be concerned about the image composition and lighting, not crummy photo equipment.

So I am taking inventory of all of my Canon equipment and accessories and evaluating some alternatives, like Nikon. All of this while I was starting to evaluate a 24″ wide-format Canon printer to replace my Epson 4800. Maybe staying with an Epson printer as well.

Not a happy camper. Not someone who is going to be quick to recommend Canon.

May 15, 2017

Canon not supporting original 5D camera

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , — Douglas Stockdale @ 8:00 am

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Canon 5D body copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

Maybe I might not be the last person to find this out, but I now know that Canon Service is no longer providing support, either maintenance, repair or replacement parts, for the original 5D body.

I found this out last week when I drove over to Costa Mesa to the Southern California Canon Service center to have my Canon 5D body serviced. The back screen was not functioning properly as the after image capture in the display was posterized. I could see if the composition was correct, but could not tell if the exposure was correct by visual examination, as the histogram can only tell me so much.

The back screen has actually not working correctly over a year ago and one of the reasons that I finally made the investment in the Canon 5D Mark 3. Since I did not have the funds to fix the 5D back at that time so I just figured I would wait a little until I did. Apparently I waited a bit tooooo long. crap!

The good news is that when the shutter was not working well a couple of years before, I did take it into Canon service and they replaced the entire shutter system under warranty, which was very nice. So now I have a relatively new shutter but a piss-poor back monitor so this was not going to make it easy to sell or trade this 5D as its value was now about zero.

Okay, then the Aha!

For my Norman strobe lighting kit, the Canon 5D system needs to have the camera set to Manual and then dial in the lens aperture and shutter speeds. Once I had the right exposure combination for my studio to photograph the books, the exposure was essentially locked in (1/125th of a second at f/16). I did not really need to check the camera’s back monitor any longer. Sort of reminds me of the old 35mm film days; shoot with confidence and find out later if there are any issues. The good news is that the time and distance to check my studio results is measured in minutes and feet. The alternative is to hook up a USB between the camera and a computer as a tethered system, but I did not want to hassle with the required cable, plus I do not have a great place to set up the computer (right now).

The second part of this is to add on a dedicated lens to the 5D body, which I have been experimenting with various focal lengths to photograph book interiors for the past couple of months. I had come to the conclusion that a 50mm lens on the full frame 5D would work fine; thus I acquired the Canon 50mm f 1.4 lens to complete this studio set-up and I did a quick test with it yesterday after purchasing the lens. This is the set up below, with the PocketWizard PlusX in place to trigger the strobes, on top of my Norman P2000 power pack. I also went the little extra with the Canon lens hood as the knock-offs from China are dirt cheap, but do not come with the matte interior lining to deaden any potential reflections.

So now I looking forward to the next set of books to photograph for The PhotoBook Journal. I will probably have this camera & lens working in the studio for the next set of reviews by the end of the month. And I found a great use for the 5D body and what I might call a win-win for me.

Cheers!

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