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

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True Colours?

Working with photographers and printers I get involved in a lot of discussions about colour.

The first thing I will ask anyone is if they are working with a calibrated and profiled monitor. Many, even some professional photographers, are not. Do you work with raw files, I ask? ‘Oh yes!’ comes the reply. Well, if you work with raw files and do not have a calibrated and profiled screen, you are frankly wasting your time. Every correction you make is based on what you see on your screen. If the screen is wrong, the resulting file will have the wrong colours.

The best way of explaining this is to ask if they have visited a television showroom. If you have, you will know that every screen in the showroom will display different colours – see the photo. It’s Featured imagethe same with monitors – they are all different. Depending on the type of monitor, you will have different controls and settings, but once it is calibrated and profiled you will see a close rendering of the correct colours. If someone else also has a calibrated and profiled monitor they will see almost exactly the same colours. EIZO and NEC are probably the two most commonly used professional monitors. If you cannot afford a top end monitor like these, profiling will still bring you much much closer to the correct colours. Profiling is done to an international standard set by the CIE.

I have on my desk a MacBook Pro (generally considered to produce great colours) and a large monitor. The large monitor is fully profiled and is the one I use for all colour critical work. If I drag an image in Photoshop from the large screen to the MacBook, the colours shift significantly. If I run a slideshow on the MacBook it looks great but the colours are not technically right!

Why does all this matter? Well, it really matters when you start printing. Here we have other factors coming in like the type of printer, the inks and the paper used. But if we also profile these combinations, we can produce prints in two different locations on the same type of printer using the same paper and inks with almost identical colour. We can also get very close colours on different papers or media, only restricted by the available colour gamut of that paper/ink combination. Without using ICC colour profiles this would simply be impossible. Don’t forget for optimal viewing of prints you should use daylight (5000K).

Of course the next question is, do we all see colour in the same way? The vast majority of us do. The colour blind will not and those with synesthesia may not. I remember holding a pink card against a grey filing cabinet and someone with colour blindness saying they were identical, just one was lighter. For colour blindness there is the Ishihara test. For those whose job involves working with colour, you should try the X-Rite Colour Test and hope to achieve a perfect score or close.

http://www.xrite.com/online-color-test-challenge

Recently we had the famous blue and black dress problem. Different people viewing the same image on the same screen saw it in different ways. Some as blue and black and some as gold and white. The image went viral around the world with hundreds of theories. Psychologists who study colour had many views. Our own industry cFeatured imageolour management specialists also had a range of explanations. The image was badly exposed when taken and in unusual lighting which did not help. The original shop dress is blue and black. Personally I see it as blue and black. For me the black areas are somewhat brownish but my perception of the image puts this down to the lighting and my brain reviews the information to conclude that it is black. If we open the file in Photoshop and measure the colours, be it in RGB, CMYK or Lab, the measurements will show the colours to be in the dark and blue parts of the spectrum.

Finally, colour is also important if we are posting images on the web or using them in MS Office programs or similar. Our responsibility is to get the colours as close as possible to the ‘correct’ colour when we post an image or use it in a software. Sadly we cannot control where or how the image is viewed or how it might be printed, but at least we have given the world the chance to view an image in the way that we intend.


Featured imageCharles Henniker-Heaton has over 30 years experience in the imaging industry, first at Durst and then at Fujifilm as a senior manager involved in retail photo, chemicals and since 2006 as European Marketing Manager for large format printing. He joined ChromaLuxe EMEA in 2014 in charge of European Business Development for large format.

Organising a tradeshow booth? Be the little girl in the red coat.

During the build up for FESPA, in Cologne, now more than two weeks ago, my thoughts drifted away to another German city: Kassel who hosted the trade show ‘World of Trophies’ back in 2006. Two things have changed since 2006: Featured imageme, in almost 10 years I have learned many things about tradeshows. For one: that service deadlines when organizing a show are always extended – a valuable lesson. The second thing that has changed is my approach. One rule: Make your Stand stand out.

Trade shows are like school playgrounds in winter: the one with the red coat is the one that gets noticed. When organizing a participation at a trade show and putting a booth together you want to be that girl in the red coat. You can be the tall boy, who will be seen by everyone, just because he’s tall. You can be the loud girl, everyone can hear. You WANT, however, to be the girl in the red Featured imagecoat who gets noticed.

Everything starts with a stand building company that understands your briefings. If you ask our stand builder (please do: Expo Z, Belgium) they will probably tell you we’re not their easiest customer and that they do have their work cut out with us. If you’ve seen the booth, you’ll understand why. We do not have a “13-in-a-dozen” concept and needed a version 2 of the stand design, but the result was undoubtedly successful.

What we tried at FESPA this year was not to show the products, but the possibilities. I must admit: we have flexible products to work with. MDF panels become wardrobe doors, Featured imagea headboard for a bed or a picnic table. Aluminium panels of 5cm wide become art. The table tops were a launched product, the floor panels a prototype, but all these applications together created a complete world of sublimation possibilities.

What helps me is to pick a theme: we had 5 at this booth of 104 square meters – I love to make my life complicated. Picking a theme is possible for almost all products and prevents you from being the 5th indistinguishable company selling printers in the same aisle. Think about the little girl in the red coat.

When the stand is there, it’s the details that will make it work: thank you Unisub for providing the tools to finish it: coasters and serving trays in our Fruitorama bar, picture frames in the space theme, to go in the Featured imagespacey teen bedroom.

Last but not least: a strong team makes a strong booth. Our designer Liese did a great job inventing a Juicebar from scratch, our sublimation specialist Eva had nightmares of 5 cm bars in 6 different finishes, our warehouse team packed our samples so they arrived in the best possible way in Cologne, my sales colleagues helped putting all the samples up, our American CEO told FESPA-visitors about Large Format Sublimation during an educational seminar… A great team makes a great show. Thanks everyone!

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Featured imageCarolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via carolynk@chromaluxe.com

Liese van den Broeck is happy to announce the birth of a catalog!

In January I got the interesting task to create a new catalog for our products. The deadline was clear: we would launch it at Fespa Digital in Cologne. We were talking about creating a new catalog for a while now. Our mother company Universal Woods Inc in the US had always created the catalog but we decided to start creating a catalog for our EMEA sales region, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Not an easy decision, as that would mean there would be 2 different catalogs in circulation.

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What convinced us to go for the EMEA catalogue was the fact that the cultural differences between the US and Europe are to important. The images that our colleagues in the US sometimes choose to put on our items are not always that familiar for us. American football for example is a sport that is not common around here. Also weddings look different in the US, graduation or prom are a big deal in the States, but we know it only from films, … When we show our products to our customers, we want them to relate to the images, we need them to get inspired.

We needed a catalog that really spoke to our EMEA customers.

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We didn’t have product shots of every item, which was a first step to take care of. For the new catalog it would be essential to have pictures of all our products so I insisted on hiring a professional photographer to take nice pictures of every item we have. This was quite a challenge, because we had more than 450 products to take a picture of.

The job took a lot of preparations: First we had to collect all items and label them with the right item numbers, then we had to put some items together like the clocks or serving trays. We also made sure we took all the foil off and all dust was removed.

Taking the pictures took 3 days and putting a path around them in Photoshop another 4 days.

We chose to make pictures of the blank products (not sublimated), because it would take less time to photoshop images on the product shots than really sublimating them. Also if clients would like to receive pictures of our blank products, this would be possible. Photoshopping pictures on the product shots took another few days.

Then it was time to think about the layout of the catalogs. We decided to make 3 different catalogs: 1 for every brand we have. Featured imageIt makes it clearer to people which item belongs to which brand. Our main goal was to make everything as clear as possible. No more lists you have to search in, but all images with matching item numbers.

So I did. I made 3 catalogs all with the same lay out and style, but clearly separated for three different brands. The repetition in layout and style provides for recognition, ease-of-use and clarity.

The next step is to make a box to put the 3 catalogs in for an extra professional look.

It was a big job and the time pressure was high, but the result lies on the table now and as a team we are very happy with the result and we hope that you will like it as well!

Take a look!

ChromaLuxe catalog

Unisub catalog

SwitchCase catalog


Featured image Liese van den Broeck trained to be a graphic designer. She joined the Universal Woods EMEA team in 2013 and has grown out to be a sublimation expert ever since. She has spent a lot of time working hands on at the heat press and designs all flyers, brochures and catalogues but also all samples that are shown at trade shows. Don’t hesitate to contact Liese with graphical questions at liesev@chromaluxe.com

4 sublimation challenges

I want to talk this month about 4 sublimation challenges:

BANDING

Banding are small white lines on your output. They can be horizontal or vertical. You don’t need a trained eye to see them and those lines are already visible on the sublimation paper, before you sublimate the ChromaLuxe panel. It happens because ink dry out in the print head of your printer. You can avoid this by printing a nozzle check every day or at least print on a regular basis. Don’t turn off your printer, because this will deactivate the automatic cleaning of the nozzles.

MOISTURE ISSUES

If you pressed image ends with what look like white spots of missed color, you are mostly dealing with moisture issues. Because of the moisture in the panels (wood) and the paper (inks) this is a common problem. You can avoid it by putting your sublimation paper on top of the ChromaLuxe panel and to us something called ‘Endura Fabric’. This fabric let escape the moisture easily to the edges of your heat press.

GASSING OUT

Gassing out is when you end with a ‘burst’ of ink outside of the image area. Sublimation requires a tight marriage between the sublimation paper and the ChromaLuxe panel. If the paper shifts, or it is not firmly fixed against the substrate, you can have gassing. To avoid this, please fix the sublimation paper with heat tape (on the longest side).

COLOR PROBLEMS

The problem of color mismatch is not the result of a defective heat press or printer, but most of all of printing without a RIP software. RIP software like Wasatch is designed to have optimum ink coverage, linearization and a perfect color profile for color and black & white. Contact your dealer to receive more information about how to use a RIP software and install the latest color profiles


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

Brussels – A Love Story

Bruxelles, or Brussels, grew up from a small village called originally Broeck-zele. Literally translated this is a “Village on a brook”. A brook being a small river. Now it is a large city which is the capital of Europe. A new photo exh

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ibition celebrates this with a show entitled Brussels – A Love Story. The theme is a series of photographs taken by people living in Brussels who love their chosen home city.

My local camera club where I live in Brussels is called ‘Viewfinders’. It’s been running for many years. In a cosmopolitan city like Brussels we have over 120 members from at least 12 different countries, possibly more. The club meets monthly with well known guest speakers, photo challenges and competitions, and portfolio reviews.

When the members saw some sample prints, the super gloss and how robust they were, it became a simple decision to use ChromaLuxe for the exhibition.

Every other year we organize an annual exhibition of member’s work and this year it is taking place during the whole of May in the famous Halles St Gery in the city centre – this was an old fruit and vegetable market that has now been converted to a bar and restaurant with a gallery in the vaults.

Featured image20 members will be exhibiting 40 prints that thisyear, for the first time, will all be printed on ChromaLuxe. The prints have been produced at top Belgian professional lab, Labo JJ Micheli.

In the past the prints have been made on photo or inkjet paper and then either framed or mounted on Forex. Although the prints were low cost, the extra cost of mounting and framing was substantial. Hanging the prints was also a problem as we had to rely on a wire suspension system that restricted the weight of the frames. This special building does not allow any nails or screws to be hammered into the wall.

When the members saw some sample pFeatured imagerints, the super gloss and how robust they were, it became a simple decision to use ChromaLuxe for the exhibition. Now the exhibition is up and started, they were really impressed by the overall consistency an quality of the images. At the end of the show, they can be safely taken away to display at home and many will probably be sold and find new homes!

Most readers pFeatured imagerobably won’t have the chance to visit the exhibition unless they happen to be visiting Brussels during May – but if you can I strongly recommend it. 40 stunning images on the theme of why I love Brussels – you will be amazed.

The ‘vernissage’ on 8th May attracted over 200 visitors with a superb response to the ChromaLuxe prints. The spot lighting in the vaults really made the prints ‘pop”!

www.viewfinders.be

www.labojjmicheli.be

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Featured imageCharles Henniker-Heaton has over 30 years experience in the imaging industry, first at Durst and then at Fujifilm as a senior manager involved in retail photo, chemicals and since 2006 as European Marketing Manager for large format printing. He joined ChromaLuxe EMEA in 2014 in charge of European Business Development for large format.

Get out! Get to know the market!

After a full day of proofreading the Unisub-part of our new EMEA catalogue, I really feel the urge to talk about this brand a bit more. Not because I want to tell you about the different products we offer, but because I strongly believe that there’s a whole extra dimension lying between the lines of this catalogue.

Unisub is the brand that represents our gift items and products for personalization. A whole different market maybe than sister brand ChromaLuxe, but just as sexy if you look into it.

When considering Unisub, I could talk to you about our 10 different luggage tags, our ornaments in all shapes and sizes or about our streamline awards, a range you really should have a look at, as the quality is superb and the opportunities for using them countless.

However, I want you to look at the range from a different perspective. Of course you can be sublimating at a gift shop and offer your regulars or the accidental visitor the opportunity to have their grandchildren sublimated on a coaster as a Mothers’ Day present.

That same installation though, the desktop printer and press for small format sublimation, can take you a lot further. Here are three ideas you might have never considered.

  • Add new business: the world has digitalized over the last decade. MyFeatured image grandparents house was full of framed black and white pictures, my mother has her printed pictures lying on her living room table in an album and me personally, I store the pictures I take on my computer or smartphone. Photographers experience the same, but for them this is their income – they sell less frames, less albums, less prints. How to make money in these changing times?  Try getting more out of the studiowork, is the answer any sublimation specialist can help them with. Selling large format wall décor is great, but it’s not the only thing they can do! Help them think about coasters, a memory game, a serving tray or a puzzle, all with unique images. By all means, they must keep on selling the large format, but while they’re at it, why not show their customer the other possibilities? Help them, show them the options!
  • Think about the hospitality market and think with an open Featured imagemind: hotels, cocktail bars, restaurants, wellness centers. They all –or at least the up-market ones- want to stand out and attract returning customers. All of the groups mentioned above can use a full Unisub kit, to add the details to make their package complete. Let’s visit a wellness center: when coming in, the receptionist who’s greeting us, is wearing a name badge, so we’d know her name, the key to my locker has a sublimated key ring, I can store my valuables in a keepsake box, the doors have signs so I know where to get my massage, there is a sublimated menu on the table for lunch and my cocktail is brought to me on a serving tray, again with the center’s corporate identity. There are so many possibilities a manager might not have thought about, but that can make a difference. Help them, show them the options!
  • Do you like sports? I play amateur tennis and that’s about it. When Featured imageyou’re running a sublimation company though, make sure to get to know all the sports associations and clubs in your not too close neighborhood, and make sure they know you! The larger clubs and clubhouses can be helped in the same way as the hospitality target audience under my point 2, but also the smaller clubs now and then organize championships. Your father-in-law’s sailing club might be bored of the good old trophies and prefer an award with a picture of the winner, but they might not realize it yet. That’s were you come in: Help them, show them the options!

These are a few suggestions of where our Unisub brand can take you. Of course there are a lot more.

In other to realize this however, the first step is to do some outward marketing: don’t stay in your studio and wait for these potential customers to knock on your door, because they might never find you.

Get out, sell yourself, your service and your products. It will take some energy, but it will be worth your efforts! Good luck!


Featured imageCarolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via carolynk@chromaluxe.com