Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jackson Hole Web Gallery

Finished the last image for next months show in Jackson and added a new gallery in our web-gallery.  I invite you to open "Jackson Hole Wyoming" in the Galleries section.

You may notice that we do not have a shopping cart in our galleries.  This lack of a shopping cart enables us to speak to you the client to ensure you're getting what you want both in size and media type.  It might slow the process down a bit and stop the occasional instant buying urge however it's for the best both for you and us.  Contact us regarding availablity of an image.

Click here to enter Iron Creek Photography.

Sandy & Don

Friday, January 27, 2012

One week with the Epson 9900

I thought I'd sit down and try to convey my thoughts about the 9900 after having it for a week. Don't expect to see weekly or monthly updates as I just wanted to share what I've learned to date.

There's no reason to use the best photographic gear you can find; process images using the best software on the biggest computer you can afford if your images suffer in the final stage.  It's senseless to print an image on inferior media or a lackluster printer.  The printer is just as important, and in some cases can be more important than anything else.

As noted before, I used an Epson 9800 for over 5-years.  It got to the point the printer was just another fixture in the studio; just sitting there waiting for the next printing session.  I see the 9900 doing much the same.

There has been somewhat of a learning curve this week as I've not only changed printer but media as well.  I won't lie and say everything has gone smoothly; however, I'll admit the problems were all caused by operator error and not the fault of the printer.   

The majority of my work is printed on canvas, using Epson canvas for as long as I've owned the 9800. I'd still be using Epson canvas if they hadn't changed it. Instead I now use Breathing Colors Lyve. The reason I add this here is that using Epson media on an Epson printer is easy as everybody talks to one another. You set the type of Epson media you're using and the printer takes care of the settings. Not so using another brand.

Little things like setting the media type.  In the case of Lyve the setting is for Watercolor Paper-Radiant White (Matte Black) or Premium Glossy Photo Paper (Photo Black ink) (I choose to the watercolor setting).  Setting the platen gap to wider will also go a long way to creating a perfect print.  All this reinforces the need of using an ICC profile for the media used.

So what have I learned/observed this past week? Glad you asked.

The print quality is better. The tone in general is richer than I've seen before. This can be the result of using new media as well as the printer itself. However, I've seen this in the paper prints as well as the canvas. I've been using Hahnem├╝hle Baryta for a number of years and had enough left on the roll to print 3-images of an order for Jackson Hole. The paper images looked better than I'd ever seen them.

I think I can explain the quality difference (to my self) on the canvas.  Previously I'd been using Epson satin which used photo black ink.  I'm now using Lyve which is a matte canvas and uses matte black; that small difference is significant.

Changing from matte to photo black and back. One word. Easy. Or if you prefer, super easy. Set the media profile (I'm using CS5) and click either matte or black then sit back and let the printer take over. It's that easy.

Changing media.  Again, easy.  It now takes less than 1/2 of the time it used to in changing the media.  The lack of the spindle reduces the weight and in general makes the process so much faster.  I've changed rolls of Lyve canvas from 42" down to 36" then changed it again to a 36" roll of paper without feeling like I was wrestling an alligator.  Press the button (no lever) and the media rolls back onto the roll.  Open the lever and move the locking mechanism to release the roll and remove it from the printer.  Release the end caps and store the media.  It took longer to explain it than it actual takes.
Ink.  I just logged onto (nice touch Epson) where I see that in the week I've had the printer I done 23 prints jobs, used 546 mil ink for 119 sq ft. (Epson warns this is an estimate).
One last thought - the cutter.  This thing is a work of art.  And scary.  The first couple times the cutter activated I nearly jumped out of my chair.  It's fast. A little noisy compared to the printing process.  But gives a clean smooth cut.  It's nice to be able to cut canvas without having to first add a $400 manual cutter which I had to do on the 9800.
Speaking of cost.  The printer ended up costing less than the 9800 did even with the rebates.  I'm also surprised that I've been able to print so much using the original 110 mil cartridges as I'm now just about to change 8 of them.

The 9900 might not be for everyone due to cost and size; however, I'd recommend anyone thinking of purchasing a new printer, either as a first or replacement visit the Epson site for more information. 

In case you haven't been able to tell, I'm very pleased.

Thanks for allowing me to share.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Epson 9900

I'm uncertain the exact date Epson released the 44" 9800 however I bought one December 15th, 2006. The 9800 has served ICP well the past 5-years without problems or hiccups. Put the print media in, make sure there's ink and away you go. In short its become a fixture in the studio.

Since then there's been the release of the 9880 and the current 9890. Epson is currently offering the 9890 and 9900 concurrently with the 9890 having almost the same specification as the 9900. Actually Epson in releasing the 9900 stated it was not a replacement for the 9890.

So what's the difference and why did I replace the 9800? Good question.

As good as the 9800 is, there is a limitation; the 9800 holds 8 ink cartridges, photo black, cyan, yellow, light cyan, light black, light light black, magenta, and light magenta. There's also matte black. In order to switch from photo black to matte black requires 3-pages in the printer guide to explain which I won't even attempt to do here. I will say that there's a certain amount of draining of photo black ink involved. It always seemed a waste of ink to me therefore I never attempted the switch.

The major difference for me with the 9890 is that it has 9 ink cartridges with the 9th being matte black. The 9890 allows for automatic switching between photo and matte black. The printer reads the ICC profile of the media used and automatically switches the ink for optima print resolution.

On the stand and loading the first ink cartridges

The other major difference is the spindle-free media loading. The 9800 has a spindle which must be inserted into the roll of media before placing it in the printer. A paper roll of 36" x 100' or a canvas 44" x 120' is very heavy. I've always thought the 2-most dangerous times for any media is the act of loading and unloading; it seems Epson thought the same. There are other advances however these are the 2-that struck a cord with me.There's other little nifty things like the ability to print a bar-code on the media to track how much of the media remains. As well as a new improved rotary cutting system.

So what's the difference with the 9900?

The 9900 offers the same as the 9890 and adds 2-additional inks making it an 11-ink cartridge printer. The 9900 offers the addition of Orange and Green cartridges. The addition of these 2-colors helps to produce "the widest color gamut ever from an Epson Stylus printer" (see the following link).

Spooling the first print

This isn't so much a printer review, rather an excuse to talk about the new 9900. While the 9800 is 5-years old it worked well and more than paid for itself. However the advances made and rebates offered by Epson were just too good to pass up.

So what's in store for the 9800? It's being donated to a local high school that has a photography school. What better way to keep a great printer working.

First print almost finished

First Impressions:

I ordered the printer on Tuesday and it was delivered Friday afternoon. The shipping weight is noted as 417 pounds so be prepared. Five years ago Sandy & I took delivery of the 9800 and it was just the 2-of us to set it up. No so this one; we hired 2-guys to help unload the printer off the pallet then with their help set it up on the stand. While it took less than 45-minutes to set the printer on the stand it nevertheless requires more than just 2-people. This thing is a beast.

The setup is straight forward, just follow the directions. I ran into one problem which turned out to be operator error. I had loaded all the cartridges in the left side and began the right when one wouldn't lock in. Turned out I had attempted to load in incorrect cartridge and the printer was telling me that.
Noise. Our studio isn't that large and I find the 9900 to be much quieter than the 9800.

First print: Amazing. As good as the 9800 is, the 9900 is light-years better.

Odds and ends: Paper loading is almost completely automated. Press a button push the media in and the printer takes care of the rest. I'm using the optional barcode to keep track of media usage. The barcode is larger than expected taking up 3 1/4 inches (82.55 mm). Reload the media and the printer reads the data then cuts it off. The data is also displayed on the color monitor; print an image and the remaining length is updated as you print.


There's more to it than just this however in the end I feel it was money well spent.

Let me know if there's any questions.


One last thought; be prepared for a lot of trash including cardboard and wood pallet.

Images taken with a Droid...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A final good-bye to Epson Canvas

It wasn't easy leaving however after seeing the difference in the finished print and the easy of stretching leaves me without a choice in the matter. 

I've been fighting with the Exhibition canvas now for a month as I print the images for Jackson Hole.  The images would print just as I felt they should, however the major problem was the stretching.  The Epson website advertizes the Exhibition as being 23 mil thick however when you go to an on-line store you'll see differences of 22, 23, and 24 mil.  I've been stretching images as small as 20x16, and 40x30 with little to no problems; going to 50x30 and 60x30 showed huge inconsistencies in how the images would lay on the stretcher bars and how easy it would lend itself to be stretched.  I had noticed that even with the smaller pieces my stretching time increased.

As an artist I simply can not accept the inconstancies at the final moment of stretching.  I also can't accept that it would take me close to 3-hours to stretch a 60x30 and even then still not be pleased.  And don't think I'm bashing Epson canvas.  Very simply put, I don't like the newer Exhibition canvas.  It doesn't work for me.

If Exhibition doesn't work for me, what will?  That was the question I was facing.  It's good to have a relationship with another artist; one that can be as anal as I am in presenting the best possible work.  Ken Doo and I have been friends for many years; while we don't shoot the same subjects we are equally concerned with our end product.  It also helps that we both use medium format as our primary capture method and print on the same printer, an Epson 9800.  It helped that Ken also prints on canvas.  Ken has been using Breathing Color products for as long as I've known him and he speaks very highly of them; he's the one who got me hooked on using Glamour II to protect the canvas.  Bottom line is when he recommends something I usually listen; that's how I came to Breathing Colors Lyve canvas.

As reported earlier, I had ordered a test roll to try out and was immediately sold on Lyve canvas.  When my actual order arrived late Friday afternoon I immediately printed the 60x30 Oxbow Bend Panorama.  Again, I was immediately pleased with the image quality.  I let the image thoroughly dry overnight before putting a coat of Glamour II on it yesterday morning.  While I could have stretched the image later yesterday I decided to wait until this morning.

The stretching was easy.  I felt I was back to using Epson Premium it was so easy.  I encountered no cracking, the corners are close and tight and overall the image looks great; one that I'll gladly display for sale.  I'm back to stretching an image once; not stapling looking at puckers and removing staples in order to re-stretch.  I'm sad to say that I had one image that I had to completely remove all the staples and redo before I got it to my liking; not so this morning. 

I'll admit I was uneasy this morning as I began the stretching however I soon fell into the groove I'm accustomed to finishing the image in less than an hour. Don't get me wrong. I don't care how long it takes to stretch an image. I want to do it right the first time and not fight it.

There wasn't a fight this morning.


Finished stretched image - "Oxbow Bend Panorama"

Note: This is an edited version of the bog from this morning. I've found that I shouldn't print, talk on the phone and edit a blog all at the same time.

Thanks for following the saga of the canvas.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Breathing Color Lyve Canvas

My Breathing Color Lyve order arrived here later this afternoon thanks to UPS. I was going to wait till the morning to do my first major print (60x30) however I decided to jump right in.  

I've spent the day printing test images on the 17" roll I had ordered and am very pleased with the results. I normally run my own profiles however Ken Doo has been using Lyve for some time now volunteered to send me his (we use the same identical printer and ink) so that saved me a lot of time. 

The image being printed is of Oxbow Bend which is 60x30 or 64x34 actual print image before stretching. After making certain all the boxes that needed to be checked were, I started the print process.

 The images were all captured using my Droid cell phone (yeah I know high tech) at various intervals during the printing process. It took slightly over 86 minutes to complete the print which looks great. The plan is to protect it in the morning using Glamour II before stretching early Sunday morning.

Stay tuned as I plan on updating this to include my thoughts of the stretching.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saying good-bye to Epson Canvas

I've been printing on Epson canvas for as long as I've owned an Epson 9800. The first canvas I used was Epson Premium Satin that had a base weight of 350 gsm (grams/sq meter) and 19 mil thick. I was very pleased with the canvas in not only the image quality but how well (and easily) it stretched.

Sadly Epson discontinued the "Premium" line of canvas and introduced the "Exhibition" canvas.  Exhibition canvas has a base weight of 450 gsm and is much thicker at 23 mil.  The thickness is much like what you might find in sailcloth. Okay that might be an overstatement however it is thick.

I've tried to learn to love the new "improved" canvas; I failed to see any real improvement in image quality.  Likewise, stretching the images became a real chore.  The smaller images like 40x30 and 50x30 began taking up to twice the time as before.  This morning I attempted to stretch a 60x30 and after close to 3-hours I gave up.  The canvas is just too thick for my taste.

So what will I be replacing it with?  After talking over the list of gripes I have with the canvas with Ken Doo I took his suggestion and contacted Breathing Color.  After all, Epson from my understanding doesn't actually manufacture their canvas - someone else does.  That aside, I'll be using Breathing Color Lyve which is 19mil. 450 gsm poly-cotton canvas that is archival certified and OBA (optical brightener additive) free. 

I've seen images Ken has printed using Lyve and they are stunning.

So good-bye Epson canvas.


Update January 12th - Added a link to Breathing Color.  Also need to say just how impressed I am with the customer service there. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year

Oxbow Bend WY


Its been awhile since our last blog and we wanted to take the time to wish all our friends and followers a very Happy New Year.

Aspens Meadow

 Fall Reflections

We've been busy since returning from Jackson. Busy getting ready to return next month. Jackson has been very good to us having sold images before we left and taking orders for more. As we reported earlier, we'll be displaying our art at the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Jackson and are very excited. The hotel is hosting a get-together for us on Friday February 17th so if you're in the neighborhood please stop by. We'll give more details on the get-together as we learn them.



We've be busy doing the final processing on the images than are retuning to Jackson. This processing has been an ongoing thing that's taken just about all our energies. After we process an image we run a test print before printing full size. Once the final print is done Don gets to stretch the image which is a challenge at times. We've had to go to our venders to order the supplies necessary which is normally not a big deal. Unless it's 2-weeks before Christmas.


John Moulton Barn (sunrise)

The images included here are those that we've sold as well as those that will be on display.  While we took an order for a few images on paper, these are all printed on canvas.  We have been using Epson's Exhibition Satin canvas for sometime now and find it gives the effect we want while being somewhat easy to stretch.

Oxbow Bend Panorama
(parent image of Fall Reflections)


There's little more to add here other than enjoy the images and we'd like to see you if you're in the Jackson Hole area the week of February 13th.

Can't forget this one....

Again, Happy New Year to all!

Sandy & Don