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Photo Composites by Chris Dahl

For many years I worked in a Photo Lab where we produced photo composites. These images were used mainly for advertising at trade shows, malls and airports. We would create layered artwork showing the image and type placement. Then large copy cameras were used to shoot 8x10” film of each element. Enlargers, pin registered frames, Ortho film (Black and Clear after processing) and Rubylith (For cutting shapes aka selections) just to name a few of the other tools we had. Many hours were spent at a drafting table, in the camera room ordering type setting to the correct size. The type was delivered scaled to the size of our layout printed black on white paper. We used a hot wax to paste everything in position. Here is a link to my home darkroom, at the lab they were much more equipped.

Just like Photoshop all of the elements need to be in layers and arranged in a specific sequence. Each layer generally required a Ortho film for final assembly. Then we would make multiple exposures using the Ortho films in the sequence order on 8x10 inch color film.

For images (see below) the photo was sized with duplicating film and the mask was hand cut to fit the image. The color type was created by projecting colored light from the enlarger to the film. We kept reference material with color values to use as starting points.

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1969 by Chris Dahl

I was brought back to this year a few weeks ago at a SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers) meeting at the Techwood Campus of Turner Broadcasting. I sat next to a gentleman that is producing a documentary about the old abandoned launch pads NASA has used over the years.

He was excited about the new Apollo 11 documentary. For a back story on this movie Read this article in Vanity Fair Magazine.

The movie trailer is here.

I was 12 years old in 1969 when Apollo 11 carried a crew to the moon. There was no Internet and there were only 3 or 4 TV channels. Believe it or not, 24 hour news stations did not exist.  So for a 12 year old boy interested in space travel there were limited resources. Events like this were discussed around the family dinner table and watched on TV (If Dad wanted to watch).

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Frame on a Budget by Chris Dahl

After attending a presentation at the Booth Photography Guild on Mating and Framing I decided to try out the idea by matching it up with the requirements that the Shows/Galleries hold us to. There are two approaches below. The first one is like fitting a square peg in a round hole. It is labor intensive. So if you are not technical skip to the end (Ordering a Custom Sized Frame and Mat), where I show you how to used a “Custom Mat” wizard to have the Mat and Frame ordered cut to fit my print.

The reality is you only pay a few dollars more for the custom Mat and Frame. The online tools make it bery easy to do.

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Printing Digital Images - Remember all the settings by Chris Dahl

I have talked about my background working in photo labs in the past. When I spent my day in a darkroom making prints, I would make test prints for several clients at a time. To keep all of the images and settings organized the lab had pre-printed envelopes with all the needed information organized in a “form”. I would mark the settings on the envelope and keep the negatives and test print for each customer together. The QC person marked on the test prints any changes that were needed. The test print would also have symbols marked on the surface indicating the dodging and burning. I would transfer their changes to the form on the envelope and make another test. This process kept going until the QC put a check mark on the test print.

As we work in Photoshop or Lightroom the settings are all stored in the software. You can see these changes in the History of the Develop Module. You can even create a virtual copy of an image based on the paper and profile you are using in the print module. These settings are stored to reuse for a later print. This makes our lives so much easier than what I had years ago in the photo lab.

However, I am a task oriented person and I like to keep records. Also, the printer setup page is not as forgiving as Lightroom and needs to be changed as you use different paper types and sizes. I developed a print setup sheet a year ago to help me keep better records and force me to check all settings before I hit the print button. I keep these forms with a copy of my test print in a notebook for future reference. This sheet allows me to go back and review and double check all the print settings.

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Forgotten Images by Chris Dahl

A number of years ago I attended a program given by Rob Knight on Lightroom, he outlined his system of organization in Lightroom. I watched, took notes and was inspired by the level of organization he was achieving. I quickly adopted his methods and modified them for my use. I will not go through the details here, but I have documented them in the form of a handout that I gave to attendees of a presentation I made for one of the groups I am a member of. You can find that document here, please feel free to download this file.

So the question has become what to do I with all the images cataloged in my system before this procedure change. I have been taking photos for many years. So there are a number of stray folders and files floating around. I also have boxes full of unscanned film.

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