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Herefordshire Art Week started on the 8th and will last until 16th of September. There is 110 venues which are opened for visiting.

We are proud sponsors of 4 prizes -  £250 vouchers for each for winners of The Herefordshire Open Exhibition. We are looking forward to receiving the names of the awarded artists. They will be able to use the vouchers to order archival quality canvas prints and/or giclee prints. As always the exhibition represent a very high standard of work and I'm sure it will be a hard work to pick the winners.

Good luck to all participating.

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We have now launched a new upload tool for larger files (uo to 2Gb) - Custom Order It has been done with 'Transfer Big Files' which provides the appropriate amount of storage, allowing large amounts of customer files to be kept temporarily. Please feel free to let us have any comments on this new development.

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Right in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush we were asked by Robert Olliver-Jones, West Sussex artist if we could provide some canvasses to raise money for St Wilfrid's Hospice.

Naturally we were very happy to help with such a great cause.

Here are some images we have reproduced, more information can be found on Robert's website - http://robertolliverjones.co.uk

 

 


St Wilfrid's Hospice are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year.  Since opening their doors to their first patient in January 1987, they have cared for over 11,000 local people and at any one time caring for around 200 people in the community, offering support to their families and friends.
 
All their services are provided free of charge and they are not a part of the NHS, relying on public support to raise 86% of their annual running costs, which this year will exceed £5.8 million.
 
St. Wilfrid's Hospice provides a range of services to patients and families. They care for patients at home, in their Day Hospice and on their Inpatient Unit, and offer support to families in many ways:
 
St. Wilfrid's have a multidisciplinary team of clinical and caring professionals to ensure the highest quality of care is delivered where it is needed.
 
Their inpatient unit consists of 14 individual bedrooms with en-suite facilities and accommodates patients with a range of needs.
 
They have a team of nurse specialists who provide Community Care to patients at home and many of those patients make use of the Day Hospice facilities. Some patients are also supported at home by the Hospice At Home team. The medical team works closely with the whole multidisciplinary team to optimise the quality of patient care.
 
St Wilfrid’s continue to work with patients through the Rehabilitation Service and help them remain at home and achieve as much as possible. Hospital Support is provided by the medical team.
 
St Wilfrid’s also have a psychological and social care team who offer a range of support for families and carers. Patients and families are further supported through Complementary Therapies, Spiritual Care, Support for carers, and Bereavement Care.
 
You can read more about the amazing work they do at www.stwh.co.uk
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Little Duck Creations logo

 

 

Little Duck Creations create beautiful contemporary nursery wall art and children’s canvas prints and sell their artwork designs online via their easy-to-navigate website www.littleduckcreations.co.uk.

Many of their captivating nursery wall art canvas prints come in a variety of colour schemes to match décor, and various designs can be personalised with a child’s name or details such as a baby’s date of birth or birth weight. All personalised canvas prints also have the option of adding a message down the side, making them a truly unique newborn baby gift or Christening present. Available in a variety of artwork sizes and delivered ready-to-hang, Little Duck Creations’ colourful nursery canvases are giclée printed with vivid, long-lasting inks and are mounted onto a chunky, hand-crafted wooden frames.

 

 

 

Each canvas print has an odourless, matt finish coating to give their artwork extra protection against sticky fingers – well, they are being hung in children’s rooms and nurseries after all!

The idea for Little Duck Creations first came about when designers Kait and Craig Eaton were expecting their first child. Their baby’s nursery desperately needed brightening up with some colourful artwork, but they had been struggling to find nursery wall art they liked that wouldn’t break the bank. Talking to other new parents, they realised they weren’t the only people in this situation. So, they used their own creativity and experience gained through their children’s design and illustration company, Duck Egg Blue, to create designs for nursery artwork, perfect for little bundles of joy. And so Little Duck Creations was born, offering a range of charmingly illustrated nursery wall art, personalised canvas prints and door plaques for babies and children. Little Duck Creations’ enchanting nursery pictures are proving very popular with expectant and new parents up and down the country.

 

Noah's Ark canvasSpecial Delivery canvasPersonalized Train canvasPersonalized Animal Bus canvas print

Many prevailing nursery themes are catered for; animal-themed nurseries can be decorated with the likes of a colourful Noah’s Ark canvas or Animal Bus wall art, and each of these illustrated designs have a unisex colour scheme, making them suitable for both baby boys and baby girls. For transport-themed bedrooms ‘On The Move’ is a range of retro-style vehicle canvases, printed in bold, primary colours that look great as a set. There are also children’s canvas prints to delight little pirates and princesses, and for a newborn baby’s room Forest Friends, My Favourite Things and Hello World are all pieces of nursery wall art that can be personalized with a name and date of birth, making them thoughtful and original baby gifts. Little Duck Creations’ website is regularly updated with new nursery artwork designs, and if you require a children’s canvas print at a different size to those listed, just drop them a line – they’ll be happy to help with your requirements.

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Producing high quality canvas prints requires good practices, knowledge and experience. Each part of our workflow is done manually - which is far superior to relying on automated processes. Multiple times we have been approached by companies offering website plugins which will prepare a customer's file for printing 'on-the-fly' in a matter of seconds. We have also seen results: that's why we believe in the human eye instead of a computer algorithm. Here is the outline of our work practices:

1. SIZE CHECK

 

Once the file is downloaded from our server we check whether it's quality is good enough for the chosen size. Our canvas order page does the initial, automated check - it simply reads the file header to find out it's size in pixels. It is then compared with the chosen size and if the effective (at print size) resolution is high enough, the website displays this information. In some cases, when the file has been upscaled or comes from a poor capturing device we contact the customer and either suggest a smaller size or produce proofs to make sure that the final product is satisfactory.

editing file for canvas printing

2. COLOUR SPACE

Most digital cameras will have sRGB set as the factory default. It is also the colour space used by the majority of canvas printing companies. But if your photos are taken in Adobe RGB, or in a RAW format then a lot more colours are available. If you send your files to one of those companies, it will result in poorer image reproduction than our Adobe RGB workflow. We can also process your files in the even larger space, ProPhoto RGB if necessary. Here is a comparison of the colour gamuts for reference (Image from Jeff Schewe book 'Color Managed Workflow'

Colour space comparison

A wider colour gamut results in more available colours - it comes particularly handy with images containing colour gradations i.e sunsets, skies, but also other colour vibrant photographs. A narrower gamut can cause posterization, the opposite of smooth gradation.

3. RESIZING

Some trade / professional clients provide their artwork sized up correctly for output. In many cases files are as they come from a digital camera and need to be prepared for the selected size. Because our printers are not similar in any way to traditional litho offset machines there is no particular need for 300 dpi. Files with an effective resolution 180-360 will produce a good quality canvas print - there is no gain from going above that figure. With lower quality files we would do some upscaling. This is very much dependant on the initial image quality and an individual approach is essential. Increasing the resolution by too much will produce blur; image details will be lost.

4. COLOURS, BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST

In this step, human assessment is essential. We make sure what is supposed to be white is white and the dark areas of the image are dark by adjusting contrast and brightness. In the majority of trade orders we contact the customer before making any adjustments. Amateur photographs will always benefit from some tweaks. The idea is to make the file look as good as possible without losing it's atmosphere. Colour saturation is also adjusted accordingly.

Epson 9890 printing on a canvas

5. SHARPENING

Without going into too much detail, there are two types of sharpening we use. The first one, sometimes performed by the customer is capture sharpening, which simply accommodates for lens blur which happens during taking a photograph. Normally this is a small adjustment, which shows a slight improvement on screen. The more important for printing is the output sharpening - where we take the final print size into consideration. This is far more sophisticated and is done in a few steps. Again, the aim is to create a file which will print with best sharpness without making any adjustments obvious.

6. PRINTING

Once prepared file goes into the printing queue. Depending on selected product type it will be either Epson aqueous printer (for all giclee type canvasses) or Epson Surecolor 70600 (for decor products). Most significant aspect of our workflow here is fully colour calibrated process, from monitors on which all preparation is made to printers profiles which fully utilizes printer's colour gamut.

 

Freshly varnished canvas print

 

7. VARNISHING /HOT PRESS LAMINATING

Once print has dried it will receive two coats of giclee canvas varnish or hot press lamination. In case of liquid lamination they normally require overnight drying. We use Breathing Color Glamour II giclee varnish. There are two finish types available - gloss and satin (the latter used as default option). Decor canvasses use eco-solvent inks which don't require lamination. They are dried during printing process. For hot press lamination there is some curing time needed, but usually it is processed on the same day as printing.

8. STRETCHING

Stretcher bar frame is normally prepared while canvas is drying. As we offer a massive choice of over 700 frame sizes we don't produce frames until the order comes through. Each frame is carefully checked for imperfections. For all canvasses over 32" we add cross braces to increase stability. Our stretcher bars are made in Europe and come from sustainable sources. Once ready, frame is placed and positioned correctly on the top of the back of dried canvas. Stretching process begins...

 

 

 

positioning canvas for stretching stretching canvas - step 1 stretching canvas - step 2 Stretching canvas - wedges and hanger added
Stretcher frame is positioned on the back of the canvas. Stretching sides of the canvas Corners also stretched and finished. Canvas neatly finished with backing tape, corner wedges and hanger in place.

 

 

And here is what the finished product looks like :)

stretched canvas print

8. PACKAGING

Ok, so we have stretched the canvas, it looks great - now we need to get it to you in a pristine condition. We use many layers of packaging materials:

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_foam.jpg b2ap3_thumbnail_bubble.jpg b2ap3_thumbnail_cardboard.jpg b2ap3_thumbnail_corrugated.jpg
Foam wrap is used as a first layer to protect front face of the canvas. Secondly canvas is wrapped in bubble wrap. This acts as a cushion during transport. Double wall corrugated cardboard is attached to the front face to protect it against accidental damage during transport. Finally, it is wrapped in two layers of corrugated wrap, ready for shipping.

 

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As this question comes up quite frequently I thought it may be a good idea to summarize the advice we normally give to the customers looking to print their artwork onto canvas (though the majority of this information is common to most other media types, as well).

We need to start with the question of what type of artwork is to be printed. While preparing photos is relatively straightforward, artwork containing text, logos or other elements requires a different approach (especially when spot colours are involved).

We can define artwork as two types: 'bitmaps' and 'vectors'. Bitmaps are all photographs taken by digital cameras, scanned images and any artwork which has been saved (or exported) as a bitmap.

 

BITMAPS

Bitmaps are created on a pixel grid and have a set size in pixels, for example: a photo taken by an 8-Megapixel camera will have approx. 3264x2448 pixels. You can imagine a grid made out of pixels where each pixel can have a different colour. The amount of available colours depends on the bit depth - most commonly it will be 8 bits, which allows 256 shades of Red, 256 shades of Green and 256 shades of Blue. This gives a total of 16.8 million available colours.

When it comes to print a bitmap, it's size in pixels determines the quality. Let's say we want to print this bitmap onto canvas. What will be the effective resolution of the print? What is the maximum size that we can print it at? It all depends on the size of the print - If we print it as 32x24" then from simple maths we will have approx. 100 pixels per inch. (3264/32 =102). If we decide to print it at half that size - 16x12", the file will have an effective resolution of 200 pixels per inch. Having a higher resolution doesn't pose a problem, but there is no point to create files with effective resolution higher than 360 ppi. It is usually problematic when we want to print a small file on a big scale - if we double the size from above and go for 64x48", the effective resolution of our sample file will only be 50 ppi, which is too low because the print will appear pixelated.

What are the remedies to that? There isn't really a magic bullet which will add quality to an image (apart from movies where the smallest details are extracted from grainy CCTV footage ;) if the magnification required is very big. With files around 70-100 dpi there is usually sufficient information within the file to increase the size and effective resolution. Canvas is a very forgiving media and depending on the overall quality of the photo, (i.e. a photo from a DSLR will be a much better candidate for increasing the pixel size than a photo from a phone camera) it allows for files with a relatively low original resolution to be upscaled and successfully printed.

Upscaling can be performed using Photoshop's 'image resize' window or using designated plugins - our favourite being Perfect Resize 8 from OnOneSoftware - website link. Generally these tools offer a more automated process. While manual resizing may need to be done in smaller steps and additional sharpening is usually required, the well rehearsed algorithms in these plugins can perform these actions instead of resizing by a lengthy manual process. Another take on a large print's resolution/quality is that the 'appreciation distance' is usually quite substantial and the imperfections are not visible from a distance anyway. From my experience, most customers will examine the print thoroughly, and usually don't appreciate this argument; but most banners, adverts we see everyday are printed way below 100 ppi, some even as low as 30 ppi. (A further consideration may be the workable file size when producing artwork at a really large size).

So to summarize, with bitmap images the quality is determined by the size they were created at with a bit of a scope for upscaling if necessary.

 

Most common bitmap types:

.jpg - (Joint Photographic Experts Group) - most common format used today, the majority of digital cameras will produce files in this format by default. It supports 8 bit as well as 24 bit colour-spaces. Most important from our perspective is that this is a lossy format, meaning that each time the file is opened and saved again it will suffer further quality loss. Original files saved by the camera are fine to work with for very good results. If any adjustments need to be done to the file those should be performed and the file then saved as .tiff or .psd format.

.tiff. - (Tagged Image File Format) - format used by the majority of photo editing software. Can be lossless or lossy (lossless is what should be used with intention to print). A certain degree of compression is available using the LZW method, which doesn't affect quality in any way. This is the format in which all customer's files are saved once prepared for printing.

.psd format - Photoshop's native format which keeps all data editable, i.e. text, layers, masks etc. In recent years the .tiff format is becoming far more superior than psd, because of better compression methods and greater flexibility (many applications that can not open .psd files will easily read .tiffs).

.gif (Graphic Interchange Format) - very limited amount of colours available (256), designed for simple illustrations. Not really a candidate for a printing file.

.png (portable Network Graphics) - despite lower popularity than jpeg, this format may offer smaller files sizes in certain cases, and the compression used is lossless. The aim of this format is to create good quality files for online applications but again, not really to be used for printing.

.bmp - is a Windows format - it is uncompressed and therefore rarely used. It is becoming more of a thing of the past.

 

VECTOR GRAPHIC

Vector images on the other hand offer much better capabilities. They are created using vector application such as: Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Autocad, Freehand etc. Because the artwork is more or less a combination of mathematical formulas, it can be scaled to any size without any loss of quality. It also gives much better control over colours used. Most companie's logos will be created in this way - it is very easy to manipulate them; printing on a business card as well as massive adverts without a problem. Despite this, the file sizes are very small.

Vector files can come in a handful of formats, of which the most popular is .pdf. Not only it is completely independent of the operating system, but also the hardware used. It can carry a vector graphic object without any loss of editing capabilities. However - if the .pdf has not been created in the right way the artwork may be an almost exact replica of a bitmap file and have a similar size. The easiest way to check whether the artwork within a .pdf file is a vector object is by simply zooming in - vector files magnified even thousands of times will still show nice and crisp edges and print perfectly clear.

To summarize - if the artwork we intend to print exists in a vector format, that is the best way to do it. All documents containing text will look best if used in a properly produced .pdf format file.

 

COLOUR SPACE

Any photographs taken by digital cameras will come in a variant of the RGB format, most commonly sRGB. A slightly larger colour space that we normally use (unless supplied files are in ProPhoto RGB) is Adobe RGB (1998). If your photos are already in one of those colour spaces there is no need to do anything.

CMYK format has been designed with offset presses in mind - it is narrower than RGB and converting a photograph containing vivid colours to it will result in a smaller amount of colours available. All of our printers have a much wider gamut than CMYK - they use up to 10 colours and converting to CMYK basically results in lower quality reproduction.

With regards to companies logos we utilize rips which ensure that specific colours are printed to match to specific pantone colours.

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Black & White photography has suffered big decline once colour films became more affordable. Another hit was caused by digital photography where suddenly it didn't make any difference if you were shooting in colour or changed the settings into b&w. But black & white photography is gaining its popularity now. It is being rediscovered by new generation of photographers. We are missing one thing in b&w photography which makes all the difference - colour. Colour is a big distraction from the subject and also the mood of the photo. It flattens the photo, light & contrast doesn't work as well as it does in black & white. Also textures are more crisp and sharp with black & white. We have a lot of requests for converting wedding photos and also portraits into black and white. Conversion can also save a good photo if colours simply do not work together i.e. clothes clash or simply distract the viewer. After producing many black & white canvas prints we have gained experience on best conversion methods. After all - the timeless look of the black & white canvas prints is also supported by the use of canvas varnish which makes them really resistant to fading.

Now in a simple words we just want to desaturate the photo - there is at least a few ways of doing it. Up to Adobe Photoshop CS2 there was just one option designed specifically to do it - using Image-Mode-Grayscale. This was basically stripping the colour information completely(converting RGB channels to Grayscale), without leaving us any influence how it was done. There were other ways to do it a lot better than this. Using Image-Adjustment-Desaturate. This method is actually leaving the image in RGB mode allowing further adjustments of the channels. Another way is also converting the image to LAB mode and using just L (Lightness) channel. Channel mixer was commonly used and probably still is by many photographers.

Whichever method was chosen it will almost always be followed by more subtle channel adjustments.

From CS3 there has been new tool added - it lays under Image-Adjustments-Black& White which is by far more superior than its predecessor. Going back to black & white photography - sometimes to achieve desired results photographers used to use colour filters to emphasize certain tones of the subject. This is probably the idea behind this new Photoshop CS3 tool. Here we have a control over the conversion process based on the colour information. We can easily lighten or darken areas of the final black & white version of the image just by increasing or decreasing percentage values.

Convertion to black & white for canvas printingAnother great tool during conversion is histogram. It is a good habit to keep an eye on the histogram window while making changes. Make sure that there are no 'spikes' at either side of the histograms - if there is one on the left side it usually means that the photo is too dark. Spike on the right means that there are completely white areas - usually meaning that some of the image definition will be lost.

As with any other alterations to our images it is best to work on adjustments layers rather than directly on the original photo.

Once we are happy with the new black & white version of the photo please send it to us for printing on canvas. We can also do the conversion if that is what you prefer. We can send proofs via email or even printed sample if necessary.

If you are in a position it is always best to shoot in raw format. We also RGB images to 16 bit mode first. This will allow to keep more details in the final black & white file since we potentially have more shades of black available.

Important aspect of creating black & white canvas prints is printing. We are using epson ultrachrome inks printers which are utilizing 3 different black inks (photo black, light black and light light black). These truly produce magnificent results. Together with our colour calibrated workflow we create pure black & white canvas prints, without any colour cast. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Original image for canvas printingBlack ^ wgite version for canvas printing

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We recently had the pleasure of producing canvas prints for the monthly winners of the cazenove+loyd Leica travel photographer of the year 2011 competition. The canvas prints will be exhibited in a central London venue at the end of February, where the overall winner will also be announced.

The winning prize is a Leica X1 camera with accessories, worth over £1700.

Everybody's welcome to cast their vote - but hurry as it ends soon. The monthly winner's gallery is available at cazenove+loyd. There is also a prize of a case of champagne for a lucky voter.

 

cazenove+loyd is a pioneering specialist tour operator, focussing on designing the very best tailor-made holidays in three regions: Africa+Indian Ocean, Central+South America and South+South East Asia. Based in the UK but with Clients from around the world, nothing is impossible and every holiday c+l create is unique.

To find out more, please visit  www.cazloyd.com


The overall  winner has been announced....

It is August winner - Sebastien Rombi. The photo of elephant cow having a dust bath was taken in South Africa, Kruger National Park. Congratulations :)

And here is the winning photo.

Caz Loyd Photo competition winner

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