Be Master of your Print Domain-A Guide to Preparing your Digital Images for Print

Times are changing. Everybody is getting better at  managing their digital life. You can see it everywhere.  People communicate via email, text messaging and cell phones; there are less things in our mailbox, and our homes no longer have piles of newspapers and other paperwork to constantly manage.

Folks are also creating a lot of digital images. They are storing them on their computers, sharing them on Facebook, Flickr, or in blogs and emails, and they are trying to use them to save a little money.

When a digital image is called for-to submit to a contest, display on a website, or otherwise present it for viewing on a computer, people often have a jpeg from a picture they took on their digicam, cell phone, or even DSLR camera. Good enough, as long as you took a reasonably clear picture to begin with. When people these days want to reproduce  a piece of art or old photograph, they are tempted to do the same thing. The issue: a printed reproduction should be very faithful to the original piece, something achieved with a high resolution good quality digital image.

Here’s the truth as it stands with todays technology. Next year may be different, as things change quickly, but in 2012 there are a few points to remember when reproducing or enlisting a printer to reproduce your painting of grandma’s ranch, you daughter’s charcoal drawing of Dad, or  that heirloom -type of old photograph you inherited from great uncle Jack:

1) It is better to get your piece scanned by a professional in the field, a digital printmaker or print shop or photo lab-and not by  you or someone you know with a digital camera or iPhone, unless he/she/you has had experience working with quality digital printing.

2) If you hire someone inexperienced to capture your piece by way of a digital camera or cell phone, or you do it yourself,  you should be aware of the requirements necessary to end up with a good quality print.

  • High resolution means the image file should be 300 dpi (optimum) at the size you wish to print, or 150 (minimum) at the size you wish to print. *
  • The digital image should not be fuzzy or blurry
  • the digital image should look reasonably like the anticipated end result
  • the digital image should be color managed, with an embedded color profile. *

3)   If you hire someone or do it yourself, there are also some don’ts  you must remember

  • Don’t make the image file bigger by adding more dpi or making the dimensions bigger.
  • Don’t make a bunch of adjustments to the image in photoshop unless you have a color managed workflow* and understand how to adjust it in a non-destructive manner
With today’s technology if you are providing a digital image to be used to reproduce something you should take responsibility for that image. It should be print-ready,  aka camera-ready (old school lingo) which means your file is ready to go to print without requiring the printer to make any changes or adjustments. There may be additional costs if you require your print provider to spend time prepping your files; it can be a time consuming process and takes the printer away from his scheduled work.
In order to avoid any additional charges and delays, you must do something called Preflighting. What follows is a preflight checklist for image files going to be digitally reproduced by a 3rd party.
Remember, if any of this list is foreign to you, see number 1!
  • Flatten photoshop files
  • files should be the printed size (100%) at 300 dpi for best results (150 dpi at 100% ok)
  • File has been cleaned up (no scratches, dust or goobers)
  • File has been cropped to just the desired image
  • File is saved in RGB (for best color results use Adobe(1998)RGB)
  • File is either tiff (best) or highest quality jpeg(choose largest file option)
If your file looks good to you when viewed at 100%(actual pixels) in Photoshop and
your file looks on screen as you would like it to print
Check with your print provider’s website for an upload page or FTP site. Don’t email your file. Remember: if it is small enough to send via email(2 MB or less usually) it is probably too small (low resolution) to print with an acceptable result.

*if you don’t know what that means, see number 1 (above).


Tiny Startup Dwolla Pushing Back Hard at Credit Card Companies, Paypal and Google Checkout

…and changing the way we buy (and sell) goods and services on the internet and around the corner.
I have been hearing a lot of good things about Dwolla, a startup based in Des Moines, Iowa. Their founder wants to do away with credit card companies in the next decade, and is already succeeding in replacing their bloated ripoff fee-heavy system with a new, simpler, transparent, and, yes, better way.

According to their website Dwolla is “a new payment network that works with your financial institution to offer a cheaper, safer, and overall better payment experience.”

This is so cool- you really should sit down, then read this excerpt from their blog written by Ben Milne, the mind behind Dwolla:

“Dwolla gives everyone the ability to exchange money without paying interchange (credit card fees). This is the core reason our network was created and we’ve grown considerably by concentrating on solving that single issue.
High fees, while exchanging money, is a pain point that millions of people share.

However, as we began solving that pain point, we began to realize just how fundamentally broken the whole system is, and that the fees levied were in place to subsidize the costs of an expensive legacy architecture that is over 50-years old. Consumers are losing their identities as merchants are eating the costs of compliance, and we are all paying the price:

    Why should you exchange your financial well-being for a latte every time you swipe your card?
    Why do billion dollar industries, which feed off of securing the financial information inside credit card transactions, need to exist if the data doesn’t need to be there?
    Why should transactions under $10 be considered “cost-prohibitive” for merchants?
    Why do you need a Harvard MBA to understand the fees?
    Why are there so many costs?
    Why can’t members be in control of their information?

So we built Dwolla, a new network that allows people to exchange money without bringing in the fees of other payment options. We deconstructed the rails, changed the game, and built our own.
How? We removed the threat of credit card fraud, built unique privacy controls, created new security standards, eliminated financial information from transactions, integrated new social technologies, and provided the nation with its lowest-cost sustainable payment network. More importantly, we created a company dedicated to finding and solving pain points.”

Wow, right? (I told you to sit down, silly blog reading person!!).

I love the idea of a company successfully offering an alternative to mega monster banks and especially greedy credit card companies. Theyu just implemented another facet of their service theu are calling “Instant” which gives loans of up to 500.00 without a bunch of inflated fees in real time, hence the name Instant.

Sounds too good to be true, but my instincts tell me this startup is legit and has promise. The press page on their site has hundreds of articles listed, most in very mainstream, venerable publications such as:
Business Insider
NY Times
The Atlantic
Fox Business News
…the list goes on…

Visit their simple and straightforward website to learn more, then spread the word. I mean,  if they have something,  we ought to be trumpeting their name from the highest mountaintops.

Really, have any of you ever tried to deal with Google Checkout as a Merchant or tried to borrow just a small amount of cash for a short period of time? Still waiting to hear about that loan, right? Can’t believe the fees on every payment you receive from a customer with a credit card? Still waiting to get an answer from Google Checkout’s Customer Service? Yeah, me too…
Their site’s URL is
I might just sign up…

Skylark Images Sonoma County’s Best Giclée Printing Company

It never hurts to spotlight a great business, and Skylark Images, located in Northern California, is an great digital fine-art printing business. Serving artists, photographers, designers and everyone in-between, Skylark Images is a walk-in print shop which is just as easily accessed via the internet. Even better, Skylark has one-stop-shopping for people purchasing canvas prints-custom stretching on kiln-dried poplar frames at very competitive prices.
High quality large format printers,  indeed, they can reproduce up to 60” x any length. They only use the industry’s top of the line canvas and papers to print on, and now use green environmentally friendly coatings to protect your prints. As beta testers for their suppliers they know their materials and only use the best.

Skylark Images Home Page
Skylark Images Home Page

Unlike the competition, high-resolution scanning of your image with a depth of 16 bits and a custom color profile is standard at Skylark Images, and it is the only way to ensure a beautifully clear, detailed, color-accurate print.

Established over 15 years ago, Skylark Images enjoys word-of mouth success with thousands of satisfied customers from all over the globe.

How do I know all of this? I am on the inside-a happy employee of Skylark for almost 10 years.

Digital Darkroom Works and Photography

Announcing New Website! Woo Hoo!! Yippee!!

November, 2009

I know, pretty crazy, right? I can hardly believe it. I have never had a domain or website. Lots of blogs, fledgling things for the most part, but no _my name dot com_ – until now. Who cares if I’m the last person to do it, I’m excited about it.

What You’ll Find There Photos? Well, yes, lots of visual content in the form of slideshows. It was designed from “scratch”, all backgrounds, icons, logos, favicons, etc are my creations. I didn’t really have a design I wanted to copy or emulate in mind when I started. This resulted in a site not exactly like any other site out there. Definitely not a cookie-cutter template website for photographers_. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that., it’s just not what I wanted.)

Short answer: I just made it up, and filled it with photos.

My goal was to keep it simple, easy to navigate, fun to visit, free of distracting ads… _and filled with photos.

Did I mention photos? Please check it out for yourself. Bring a crowd if you like. Stay as long as you want and come back often.


Fine-Art Digital Reproductions from Skylark Images 101

Skylark Images and Color

  • Skylark workflow includes a comprehensive Color  Management system
  • A custom color profile is created for each scan
  • all equipment and media are individually profiled in-house
  • All profiles are made using a spectrophotometer and specialized software-no “canned” maufacturers profiles

The Staff of Skylark Images…

  • The people who make up Skylark Images have the combined experience of  over 50 years in printmaking
  • A small friendly group with your satisfaction as their goal
  • Each member of the Skylark Team is the best in his/her field
  • There is no shortage of creative personalities  as the staff is made up of photographers, artists and writers
  • New information and training keep the knowledgeable Skylarkians at the forefront of  digital imaging

Location Location Location- so many ways to print at Skylark Images

  • Located in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California
  • Cotati is just south of Santa Rosa on Hwy 101
  • Their well- planned and easily navigated web site gives you all the information you need
  • With the staff happy to help you on the phone or via email if you prefer

I am of a Reasonable Nature

I am so reasonable, in fact, that I offer the use of my photographs for limited or single use projects at a very reasonable fee. I use a sliding scale like many other photographers who license their images, basing the fee on several factors such as

  • for a private party/individual or for a  business?
  • how/where will they be viewed?
  • will there be any media distributed containig my images?
  • will there be vast amounts of wealth resulting from my images?
  • will there be reproduction of my images in another publication?
  • for how long?
  • how will this publication use my images?
  • is this a request for a charitable donation? 
  •  After a flat-fee is negotiated successfully I give the interested party permission the use my copyrighted work for a single purpose, with a time limit if needed. The image is then provided in whatever acceptable format they wish. 

    I’d like to mention a couple of artists who were very helpful to me, giving my photography a boost by seeking the rights to paint from my photographs.

    Continue reading “I am of a Reasonable Nature”