Archive for the ‘SizzlPix!’ Tag

Review: Printing on aluminum with SizzlPix!   3 comments


Smoke 'N Sunset - image of planes with smoke trails.

Recently, a client of mine expressed an interest in buying one of my images to help brighten up a dark area of a room. There was one image in particular that they were thinking of, but there were a few concerns: The cost of mounting, matting, framing, and glassing a large 36″ image; the weight of the final product; and the fact that matte prints can appear rather flat and dull, despite post-processing treatments to jazz them up. Most importantly, the client wanted the image to look like it did on their computer screen — backlit, bright, luminescent, etc. — which, as we know, is almost impossible with prints, although metallic paper adds some of that extra dimension.

While listening to a recent podcast from Derrick Story, I had heard about an outfit in California, called SizzlPix! Derrick invited the CEO of SizzlPix!, Don Sherman, in for an interview.  It sounded pretty good, so I checked them out further to see if their product could meet my client’s needs. Knowing that there are other sources for aluminum/metal prints, I contacted Don to see if he could explain how his product differed from other offerings, and if he could justify what seemed to me an uplift in base pricing over his competitors.

In a thorough and gracious email, Don sold me on the differences, not the least of which is the personal attention and hands-on care that each order receives.  As I went through the process with Don, I could see it was true.  Each order is carefully attended to, and they don’t start until all questions are answered.  One item that caught my attention is that SizzlPix! prefers high-quality input, so I was able to send them a flattened 16-bit TIF file in Adobe RGB colorspace instead of the typical JPG/sRGB upload. (I know, I know… JPGs usually look great even in larger sizes, but I wanted to retain as much pixel and color happiness as possible. Why short ourselves?) They also offer a 30-day ‘remake or refund’ guarantee, so how could I go wrong?

I sent up the TIF, had several pleasant email conversations with Don, and they had the product turned around in about two days.  UPS, of course, did their typically stellar job in elevating my heart rate when I saw what they can do to a box.  Good thing we didn’t mark it “Fragile”, or it would have gotten the ‘special treatment.’

All was well inside the box, as things were well packed.

I took out the final product and was very, very pleased with the result.  We got the standard mounting system.  The final product was light, well-reproduced, not cropped, and had all the brightness that my client could have wanted.  While metallic papers can add a lot of punch and brightness, especially to an HDR image, the effect tends to be localized to certain, lighter regions of the picture, and those regions can be garish in the wrong light.  On the SizzlPix! print, the entire image had a luminescent, almost 3-D quality to it.

I delivered the SizzlPix! print to my client yesterday, and they LOVED it.  It was exactly what they were looking for.  I got a second followup email from them this morning, reiterating how much they were pleased.

In the end, the most important things when dealing with clients are: Listening carefully to what they’re looking for and what problem they’re trying to solve; targeting an effective solution; providing attentive and superior service; and closing the deal with a satisfied customer.

In case you’re interested in seeing which image was ordered, you can open a new window to see Smoke ‘N Sunset in larger format on my Transportation galleries.

Rob

Disclaimer: I will never review or tout something that I haven’t used, or don’t firmly believe in as being helpful to the cause of delivering better photographs. As a result of this exchange with Don Sherman at SizzlPix!, we have arranged that I can offer a 10% discount on any SizzlPix! order. Please see my Discounts page on this blog (soon to be posted on my website, as well), or simply enter “RobHanson” in the comment area on the order form.

Warp This!   Leave a comment


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I have seen the following technique from a couple of sources. The first was in one of Rick Sammon’s books, and then I saw it in a very recent blog. I was reminded to cover this technique with my own image as I uploaded it for printing on aluminum at SizzlPix! It’s a fun post-processing technique that you can try on some of your own images.  It won’t be a hit on every one of them, but when it does work, the results are pretty wild.

First, look for an image with a strong graphic element.  Flowers and trees tend to work very well, and if you can avoid a cluttered background, so much the better.

Here is my original image. Notice the strong graphic element of the trees, and a minimally disrupted background.

image of a sycamore tree on a bright blue day

On this image, after bringing it into Photoshop (CS4, in this case), I did a little modification by adding a NIK Color Efex Pro Polarization filter in order to even out the brilliant blue sky.  Then, using my LAHR/HALR sharpening technique, I brought things to the clarity that I wanted.

Make sure the image is flattened. Also ensure that it’s in 8-bit mode by using the Image -> Mode -> 8-bits/Channel command, as the upcoming Distort filter doesn’t work in 16-bit mode.

Go to Filter -> Distort -> Polar Coordinates.  In the preview window, select Polar To Rectangular and let it fly. Funky, eh? Maybe you’d like to stop there…

Go to Image -> Image Rotation -> Flip Canvas Vertical.  And then…

Go to Filter -> Distort -> Polar Coordinate, but select Rectangular to Polar.

For this image, the result is:

warped sycamore

Well, there was just a bit of extra work. The immediate output from the final Distort command yielded, in this case, a tan or buff background. Using a simple Paint Bucket tool set to a very low Tolerance of only a few pixels, I dumped black into the outer areas to really set off the contrast to the image.

I’ve printed this out large on metallic paper.  Killer!

This is one of those techniques that can really yield some interesting surprises.  Feel free to play around with various combinations and different images. Since there’s so little effort involved, you really can’t go wrong.

Have fun!

Rob

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