My birthday rolled around and my friends wanted to get me a present. Passing up the hints I sent them - the advertising flyers for the Nikon D4, the Maserati, and the weekly special at Dan Murphy's - they chose a gift voucher for an online photo book publisher. It has turned out to be the best present yet, and a real learning tool.
Prior to this, like many analog photographers, I had tried my hand at calendars, posters, and self-printed photo books, and like many had found a basket of problems. Difficult to incorporate text or tables, difficult to position images, difficult to get consistent results. The cost of printing paper and chemistry made it comical rather than economical.
All changed. This latest experience was easy, seamless, and far more successful than ever before. I elected to make a book of my "Hot Rod Honeys" in 300mm x 300mm form, and downloaded the free software from the publisher to do it. Fortunately the firm that does it realizes that most people are duffers when it comes to this so they also set up a couple of instructional videos. I looked and learned.
First problem was the format that they advocated was square, not rectangular. I had to revise the cropping on some images though fortunately I tend to leave enough air around my main subject when I compose. In future I will probably opt for a different format so that I can do the landscape stuff - it is do-able but you have to do your own positioning.
Second problem - if you want a full bleed you have to get your margins out a decent way past the on-screen guide lines. No trying to squeeze that last millimeter into the square - you'll end up with a white flash at the edge of the page. See, I am learning.
Third problem: Printing is good but the paper seems thin - particularly compared to the double-sided matte or lustre paper we get for our inkjet printers. We'll have to see how well it holds up with time.
But here is where the good part starts. You choose your pictures in jpeg or tiff form, position and crop them as you will - then put on drop shadows or other frippery, and start to review your work. Look very carefully, as you get tired and miss things on the first run. I proof-read, if that is the word for a non-verbal book, at least 4 times before I picked up my obvious mistakes.
Uploading it to the firm is easy - the 60 page book with 260 Mb of info tootled off in 15 minutes and 10 days later a well-wrapped parcel dropped at the door.
I am thrilled - the pictures from my Nikon D300 that I have really only seen on screen or through my Epson printer are far more detailed than I imagined when spread out on a printed page. Even better is the realization that the screen image and the commercially printed image are the same - that time spent calibrating the screen with the little Spyder Express is well spent. The choice of colour space - Abobe RGB 1998 is also fortuitous.
Next experiment will be to search out files and images for further photo books - perhaps exotic dancers or railway locomotives - and try out two different on-line publishers. The birthday gift was a credit with a firm that operates in Melbourne so it will be interesting to see how their product compares to printing from the USA or China.
Conclusion: I thoroughly recommend that you try some of your own images in book form. You will be thrilled and you can bore the socks off your friends and family without needing to carry a laptop!
Labels: Apple, Better Photography, Datacolor, Nikon, Uncle Dick