Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos

CONTACT NICK

Making a Fine Art Photography Print

Making a Fine Art Photography Print (2 Part Video)
View on YouTube to see full HD

I'm a big advocate of printing photos. I urge my students to do it whenever I can. And that's because my sense of pride and satisfaction is at its peak when I create a fine art photography print to hang on the wall. There's something about it that feels so much better than just sharing it digitally.

I mean, come on, how good can it feel sharing a photo on Instagram? You spend hours and hours getting to a location, setting up a shot, and processing the image only to have it displayed on a 2.5-inch wide screen that viewers will swipe past in under 3 seconds. You get a few likes, and that feels good, but then the picture just disappears into "the cloud" forever. Digital sharing is "here today, gone tomorrow."

But printing...that's different. When you get a print made, you're making a bold statement. You're saying "I'm so proud of this picture that I'm willing to spend money to get others to see it. I want it around for years, maybe decades. I want it on display in such a way that people can't just swipe past it." When you get a print made, you're investing in your work. You're saying that it's worth the effort and expense. And that does wonders for your self-esteem.

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Think I'm overstating it? Get a big ol' print made and get it framed up real nice. Then tell me it feels about the same as posting them on Facebook. The tangibility of a print creates a sense of fulfillment that 1's and 0's just can't. For me, it's about the same as emailing a friend vs sitting down with them face-to-face. Sure, both are the exchange of ideas, but I'm betting you have many more memorable face-to-face interactions than memorable emails.

So that's why I decided recently to make a new fine art photography print. And the image I chose was one I took in Joshua Tree National Park on black and white film. I actually took this picture during an on-location video I made awhile back (check that out here). I love the vibe of this photo and it's something I've wanted hanging on my wall for awhile now because Joshua Tree is a very special place to me. I'm utterly in love with the desert and I've had some of my most incredible experiences in this part of the country. Also, what can I say, I just like the photo!

Whenever I set out to make wall art from one of my photos, I envision the finished piece as my very first step. I picture the framing style, the type of paper, the size - I get it all worked out in my head until it looks perfect. Things will get tweaked here and there as I go through the steps of it, but for the most part, I know the vibe I want and how to get it.

For this piece, I wanted a rough, old-timey vibe with a lot of texture and depth. I'd never used watercolor paper in a framed photo before, but I knew from previous samples that watercolor paper would provide the texture I was after. The only problem I have with watercolor paper is that it's for inkjet style prints and, generally, I hate inkjet prints. They are far inferior in overall look to Lightjet prints, which is what I typically get. But I really wanted that texture, so inkjet it would be.

So what's the difference between inkjet and Lightjet? Inkjet is ink on paper, like what you do at home. Lightjet is photosensitive paper (like in the darkroom) that's put through a machine that exposes your digital image to it with light (like in the darkroom) and then puts the paper through developer and chemicals and such, just like traditional darkroom prints. The end result is a true photographic print baked into the paper itself with a superior look.

I wasn't looking forward to inkjet printing on this piece, but luckily, watercolor paper absorbs ink differently than typical gloss paper, which results in better prints than I'm used to seeing from inkjet. And the technicians at Pro Photo Connection in Irvine (www.prophotoirvine.com) did a superb job on the print as always.

To add some more texture to this piece, I created a deckled edge on the paper, which is where the paper looks torn rather than clean-cut. The process for this is simple and is described completely in part 2 of the video series linked at the top of this post.

Then, to get my depth, I opted for a float-mount in a shadow box. This lifts the print away from the backer board and creates lovely shadows in the frame. The framing was done by my framer of choice: Salamon Art in Fountain Valley, CA (www.salamonart.com). They always do a perfect job.

When getting prints this big, it's a good idea to get a proof first. As you'll see in the video, a proof is an 8x10 snippet of the full print that you can use to verify the look before giving the go-ahead on the full-size piece. This is a great way to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises in the full-size print.

The finished fine art piece came out great. I got the vibe, the texture, and the depth I was after. It's a really cool style overall and I plan to do many more in this fashion.

If you're interested in purchasing this fine art photography print from Joshua Tree National Park or if you'd like to get a similar piece made, please drop me a line here.

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Large Wall Art: 7-Foot Wide Panorama

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick CarverLarge Wall Art: Nick Carver and the 7-Foot Wide Beast
Click Any Image to Enlarge

I recently made a large wall art piece for a client to hang in his TrueCar executive office in Goleta, CA. I've made some large wall art before. My record is 10-foot wide, a panoramic view of Sedona, AZ that hangs proudly in my Tustin classroom. But on the 10-foot wide piece, I broke up it into 3 smaller pieces, forming a triptych, simply because it's nearly impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to create a single piece that large.

Large Wall Art - Panoramic Photography by Nick Carver

For this wall art at TrueCar, we were looking at doing a 6-foot wide print with a 4" double mat and a 2" frame. All in all, the piece would measure 7-foot edge-to-edge when it was complete. Since we were going with traditional matting, doing a triptych wouldn't look right. The gaps between prints would be distracting. So the goal was to do a single continuous piece framed under glass.

Before this, I'd never done a piece this large with glass. The triptych hanging in my Tustin classroom is float-mounted with plexiglass and no frame. Doing it under a single pane of glass presents a different set of challenges. Thankfully my framer, Salamon Art in Fountain Valley, provided much needed guidance on this process. I learned from the head honcho over there that matting prints this big is so uncommon that there are only 2 colors available for matting: white and warm-white. Good thing that's what we wanted anyway. The next challenge was glazing (meaning the glass). They don't make glass this big for picture framing. We could get a pane specially made, but that would cost a fortune. Thank God for acrylic. Acrylic glazing made the whole piece surprisingly lightweight compared to glass and it made the materials far more affordable.

I typically like high-gloss metallic prints, especially for landscapes like this, but I decided to go with a regular matte finish paper. It was a tough decision because I don't really like matte photo paper, but it was the right decision. High-gloss prints this big become distractingly riddled with ripples and reflections. Also, it's a good idea to do really dark photos in a dull finish. High-gloss picks up reflections even worse when the picture is dark. If you got yourself a really bright composition, though, gloss can look great. The printing was done, as always, by the experts at Pro Photo Connection in Irvine. It's the only place I trust with my prints. This photo, by the way, is a 6x17 panoramic made on Fuji Velvia 50 film in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

Sunset at Rancho Palos Verdes

The finished piece came out great, it was huge, it didn't break on transport (my biggest worry), and it looked gorgeous hanging on this exec's wall. As I've said before, getting the photo framed and hanging on someone else's wall is the ultimate reward of photography. Feels good.

On to the next one.

Featured Fine Art Pieces: “Monet Skies” & “Neptune Dreams”

Laguna Beach Fine Art Landscape Photography

Image Title: "Monet Skies" - click image above for a larger view
Image Size: 24" x 36"
Total Size: 35" x 47"
Edition: 1 of 100
Price: $750

This 3-foot wide print of a "Monet-like" sky reflected in wet sand at Crystal Cove State Park, CA is framed with a light pecan, rustic style frame that I personally hand-made using top-quality moulding. The image is further accented with a seamless off-white linen liner with a 25-degree bevel that helps to showcase the rich colors in the image. The metallic paper used in all of my fine art prints coupled with the UV-protective gloss coating really accents the wet sand in the shot.

 

Laguna Beach Fine Art Landscape Photography

Image Title: "Neptune Dreams" - click image above for a larger view
Image Size: 16" x 24"
Total Size: 24" x 32"
Edition: 1 of 100
Price: $450

Taken in Crystal Cove State Park on New Year's Day 2010, this image of seagrass-covered rocks under a fiery sunset showcases nearly the entire rainbow of nature's colors. I hand-made this frame using a pecan-colored frame with rich, warm tones to help bring out the reds and yellows of the sunset. The cream-toned liner with its 30-degree bevel draws the attention in to the artwork and works to enhance the colors of the image, making them "pop" off the metallic-based paper.

As with all limited edition fine art prints, this piece is printed with LightJet technology on Kodak Professional Endura Metallic Paper, making them the finest quality prints available. Click here for more info about my fine art prints.

Both pieces are available for sale and both will be on display in Artist Eye Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA starting June 29th. Information about Artist Eye Gallery can be found here.

If you'd like more information about purchasing a limited edition fine art print like this or any other image in the catalog, email Nick at info [at] nickcarverphotography.com.