It all starts with a sharp image …

If you ever produced a ChromaLuxe panel, than you know that it will show every detail and color of your beautiful image … also when your image is not 100% sharp. It all starts with a sharp image, and sometimes that’s not the case (because you didn’t shoot the image yourself for example). That’s one of the reasons why they did invent the application Photoshop back in 1988. In the latest versions of Photoshop, you have the filer called “Unsharp Mask”. The Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop works by increasing the contrast of your image and I will explain below how to use it in a proper way:

 

How to sharpen photos with the Unsharp Mask filter

STEP 1 : Crop and resize
Open your image in Photoshop. Use the Crop tool to crop the image as desired. Choose Image > Image Size, enable the Constrain Proportions and Resample Image check boxes and set your desired resolution and size. We set Resolution to 300 Pixels/Inch and Width to 16 Centimeters. Click OK.

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STEP 2 : Launch the filter
To sharpen the image, choose Filter >
Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Click a portion of the image that contains detail such as the centre of the flower. This then appears in the filter dialog box sized at 100%.

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STEP 3 : Set the Amount
Set the Amount to 150%. The Amount controls how much sharpening is applied to the image. You can readjust this later, but for now, you want to see the results of adjusting the other sliders clearly.

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STEP 4 : Radius tweaks
The Radius sets the width of the haloes around the image edges. The larger the Radius, the wider the haloes are. For a sharp image, set the Radius to something between 0.5-1.5. We used a setting of 1.0 here.

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STEP 5 : Adjust the threshold
The Threshold setting controls how much difference in brightness there must be between adjacent pixels for them to be considered an edge. A small Threshold value sharpens everything and a large one sharpens nothing. We set the Threshold to 10.

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STEP 6 : Fine-tune the result
Readjust the Amount to fine-tune the result. When sharpening for your output on a ChromaLuxe panel, adjust the Amount based on what you see on your (calibrated) screen. Do not over-sharpen, because on the ChromaLuxe panel, you will see the over-sharpen effect very easily. Click OK to apply and save your sharpen image.

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Now your image is ready to print on the ChromaLuxe panel. Add your image in the RIP software to print it on a professional large format sublimation printer and enjoy the sharpness and details, after pressing it on a heat press, on the size you want.

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stevieSteven Roesbeke has a huge experience in the graphical industry with a lot of expertise in color management and output solutions. Since 2013 he is the Technical Support Field Engineer at Universal Woods EMEA. Read his technical blog posts to discover helpful tips & tricks and learn more about the do’s and dont’s of (large format) sublimation. You can always contact him at stevenr@chromaluxe.com

Innovation in Photography: the story told by guest blogger Jean Jacques Micheli

My first photographic experience was watching a black and white image appear in the developer bath in my father’s photo lab darkroom; I was about 6 years old. At this time, the professional photographer had to do everything himself from taking the original photograph, through to all the laboratory work. This was in the 1960’s and I took my early steps into the world of photographic printing.

Not long afterwards, a salesman came to show us a strange camera with bellows that, in one minute, could produce a black and white photo. The Polaroid became my second important discovery in the world of photography.

Of course, the evolution of cameras and the ever-advancing quality of new films have contributed to the overall improvement of the photographic image.

In the 1970’s when I was a student of photography a revolutionary colour process appeared on the scene – Cibachrome. This Swiss process was for me my third and most striking innovation allowing slides (diapositives) to be printed on a paper which had a metallic look and saturated high-contrast colours. Cibachrome became a huge success with photographic artists around the world, in part for its special image rendition but also for its long print life said to be between 50 and 100 years. Art works printed on Cibachrome still maintain very high values in the photographic art market.

Featured image“Black Ginger” photos by Serge Anton

More recently, an article in an American photo magazine caught my attention. It spoke of “metal prints” with luminous colour and very precise details. After some research I discovered that it was an American photographic process which was virtually unknown in Europe, with the exception of the UK. With one of the principal activities of my lab being fine art printing for artists and art galleries, it was only natural that I would adopt this process. It is indeed very close to Cibachrome and many artists and photographers make the connection.

It is now 3 years since I started offering high-quality ChromaLuxe prints alongside silver and fine art prints; an ever-increasing number of artists have opted for this print media with its deep blacks (no other photographic process obtains this level of density) and its luminous colours. ChromaLuxe is also an excellent choice for outside displays because it is water and even graffiti resistant. It also has excellent scratch resistance during routine handling of images. We have, for example, some ChromaLuxe prints displayed on the island of Saint Bartholomew’s in the Caribbean in an open-air restaurant. Similarly, if you are able to pass by the new BO Bank in Brussels you will find a monumental 3D artwork, by the artist Yves Ullens, made entirely out of ChromaLuxe. It is not unusual for clients to send us mails enthusing about the quality of our work and the rendering of their images on ChromaLuxe.Featured image

ChromaLuxe is, without doubt, my fourth significant discovery in my already long photographic career.

Labo JJ Micheli was the first European lab to obtain the ChromaLuxe Quality Label certificate.


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Jean-Jacques Micheli has built his carreer around photography: from 1978 to 1982 as professional photographer and in 1982 he has created his photo lab in Bussels. He is specialised in Fine Art prints for artists, art galleries and societies. His lab is recognized for the excellent mastery of color and his team consists of image and finishing specialists. You can contact Jean-Jacques Micheli via +32 (0) 2 733 21 85 or jjm@labojjmicheli.be.

For more information : www.labojjmicheli.be

Resolution, DPI, Pixel Density, Megapixels, PPI, … What’s in a name.

There is much confusion about the correct resolution of a high quality photo that is expressed in dpi. Searching with Google for the keyword ‘dpi’ results in a long string of questions. DPI is however very important when preparing an image for sublimation on ChromaLuxe: the more DPI, the sharper the result.

DPI is a confusing concept: when we talk about printing, it means the resolution in Dots Per Inch. When we talk about cameras or monitors, we talk about the resolution in Pixels Per Inch. To make it even more confusing, here in Europe we talk about Pixel Per Centimeter.

So what is Dots Per Inch? DPI is the total amount of dots that can be placed in a line within the span of 1 inch (25,4 mm).

You can find the properties of your digital photos in a photo editing application like Photoshop, but also in Windows Explorer. These properties are called the EXIF (data). To find those properties in Windows, do a right click on your file and after that Properties > Summary > Advanced. In Apple Finder, just click on the photo icon, the press Command-I to bring up the info dialog. When it appears, click on the right-facing triangle beside the word More Info.

If you are a professional photographer or printer, you need to open your images in Photoshop to know the exact size that your image can be printed on. There is only one rule: your image must have 300 Pixel/Inch to have perfect sharpness and detail. To find out, go in Photoshop to the Image menu and choose Image Size. Change Width & height to Centimeters and be sure that Resolution is set to Pixel/Inch. Check if the Resolution is 300 Pixel/Inch to know the dimensions in Centimers (right image in the example below is faulty).

300vs072

What to do when your original image is only 72 Pixels/Inch ? Well, than you need to Resample it. To do this, go in Photoshop again to the Image menu and choose Image Size. Untick the Resample-checkbox and type next to it 300 (check example below). Width & Height will show you now the exact size that your image is printable. Save it this way and start to print.

resample3

What happens when my image has a low resolution but has the correct dimensions ? The image will look great on your screen, but… once it’s printed you will see the pixels very strongly. If a high resolution image is not available, you can try to lower the resolution. You can go as low as 150 PPI for printing with the sublimation technology. Don’t go lower, because you will start to see pixelation (check example below). Another trick is to blow up your image. You can do this with Photoshop, but you have also 3rd party applications (e.g. blow-up3 from AlienSkin). The trick is not to blow up your image in one time, but to do it in several steps (4-5 times).

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Not sure if your dpi is sufficient? You photolab will be able to give professional advice. When you are sublimating yourself, always follow this rule: more dpi is better. Play with it and experiment, you’ll soon understand the value of dpi!


stevieSteven Roesbeke has a huge experience in the graphical industry with a lot of expertise in color management and output solutions. Since 2013 he is the Technical Support Field Engineer at Universal Woods EMEA. Read his technical blog posts to discover helpful tips & tricks and learn more about the do’s and dont’s of (large format) sublimation. You can always contact him at stevenr@chromaluxe.com

Photography in a challenging economy: Photolab, Athens, Greece

It is well known that the recent developments for the Greek economy have been very frustrating. Since 2008 Greek enterprises have been facing thousands of problems, some of them have withstood when others have not. Many address these problems with passivity while others with activation. Photolab chose extroversion, the bFeatured imageelief in staff capabilities as well as the equipment, and of course the 35 years of experience in the domain.

The last five years, there have been endless hours of meetings with my partners so as to trace a new road, a strategy that will meet the economy’s current conditions. There have been plenty of ideas. Price reduction, new highly commercial products, operating cost reduction, etc. All of these proposals did not satisfy me. The faith in our potentials did not allow me to drift in that kind of logic.

During 2008 we reached our first decisions. Purchase of a new private building, investment in a brand new UV machine and simultaneously complete renovation of our head office. The following years the same logic prevailed. Photolab’s accession into the E.U. program of subsidies for business and capital investments of approximately 250.000€ in new equipment. New digital cutter, new printers, certification as an official ChromaLuxe lab and much more.Featured image

In 2014, we arranged our first participation as ChromaLuxe’s guest exhibitors in the world’s biggest photo exhibition show in Cologne of Germany, known as Photokina. Photolab achieved the greatest compliments from visitors for our whole presence. Our certification as one of the 14 Official ChromaLuxe Labs in the world, made it worth our while.

ChromaLuxe’s products have helped Photolab achieve its goals to enter the European market and simultaneously increase sales into the Greek market. More particularly, since February 2013 Metal Prints have grown ten times, proving that we work intently in that direction.

The market has embraced Metal Print, despite the fact that it is a premium and expensive materiaFeatured imagel as far as Greek facts is concerned. Metal Print is an extremely unique material, requires top quality equipment plus very high and demanding level knowledge of color management. It is not a product that everyone can deal with. That fact actually can be proved from the small number of Official ChromaLuxe Labs around the world.

Photolab provides what is best in order to satisfy Greek as well as European customers. We set up all the production line according to ChromaLuxe instructions, Zund’s digital cutter so as to support custom dimensions without compromising on quality, as well as shipping services for Metal Prints in every European country through our collaboration with TNT delivery.

As an epilogue, let’s believe in Greece, lets be inspired by a wonderful country with beautiful people. Greek businesses can be on the top and Photolab will always be in the front row!!!


Being a meFeatured imagember of the team since 1998, Stratos Actidis is leading Photolab for the last 4 years. He has studied Photography in the Leica Academy of Athens from 1998 up to 2000. He has been highly trained in colour management and as an operator of various systems like Durst Lambda 130, Fujifilm Frontier 355, Zund G3 250M digital cutter, Konica digital offset printer, Roland and Epson ink jet printers and much more. Furthermore he is a Photoshop expert and he has personally designed Photolab’s awarded web site: www.photolab.gr.