Are the prints archival? How do I care for them?

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My prints are produced with archival inks and papers. With proper care, they should last for many decades. Wilhelm Imaging Research, which tests the archival characteristics of many paper and ink combinations, released in early 2009 new ratings for my printer, the Epson 9900. Framed under glass and with Epson papers, longevity ratings ranged from 68 years to over 100 years. With UV glass, the ratings increased to a range of 98 years to over 200 years. While such testing cannot predict the future with certainty and each paper and ink combination needs to be tested separately, you can be certain that when properly handled your prints will last longer than any traditional color process.

So, how do you handle the prints properly? When framing, use archival materials and UV-protective glass or plexiglass and keep the print from contacting the glass. When storing outside of a frame, place in an archival envelope and do not place the prints in direct sun (archival albums are best). Basically, treat your prints the way you would treat any other art that you value and they should last a lifetime.

How do I get digital files to you?

However works best for you. You can e-mail it to me if it is relatively small, you can send me a CD or DVD, or use a service such as DropSend to send a very large file to me. I also have a dropbox available on Hightail so that you can easily upload files to me – please contact me for the link.

My print was great and it sold! How do I get more?

Unless you request otherwise, I will keep a copy of the file I use to print your image on my computer system. If you ever want reprints, I can quickly make a new print for you using the saved file. While I do back up my computer system, I can make no guarantees of permanent print file storage, but I do maintain a database of print files that are easily accessible to assist my clients in quickly ordering additional prints.

How big can I print?

There is no easy answer to this question. Factors such as the type of printer, the quality and size of the file, the subject matter of the photograph, the anticipated viewing distance of the finished print, photographer and/or client preferences, and other factors all can come into play in determining acceptable and optimal printing sizes.

Subject matter is one of the more important factors in determining how big you can print. Images that rely on intricate detail are more difficult to enlarge and thus have smaller acceptable print sizes. Images that do not rely as heavily on detail and instead rely more on color, shape, or other aspects of design can often be successfully enlarged to a greater degree, allowing larger acceptable print sizes.

For most subject matter, however, the size of your file from your digital camera or film scan will tell you how big you can print with acceptable results. A standard measure of the amount of enlargement of file is the dots per inch (dpi) sent to the printer (the print resolution). The dots in this case refer to pixels in the original image. If, for example, you have a typical 6 Megapixel camera, your images will be somewhere near 3000 pixels by 2000 pixels . If you wanted to print at 300 dpi, for example, this would result in an image that is approximately 10 inches x 6.7 inches. You can calculate this number for your files simply by dividing the number of pixels by 300.

From my experience, I believe that a print resolution of 240 dpi or higher will unquestionably produce fine art prints that survive close inspection. So, you can modify the formula above and divide the number of pixels in each direction by 240 instead of 300. For the 6 Megapixel camera mentioned above, that means you can easily produce quality, fine art images of 12.5 inches x 8.3 inches or smaller. For a higher resolution 10 Megapixel camera (with about 3870 pixels x 2600 pixels), you can easily produce fine art images of 16 inches x 11 inches or smaller. If you want the highest quality, I would suggest 300 dpi or 360 dpi, but higher resolutions than 360 dpi usually don’t provide improvement visible to the naked eye. For many images, 180 dpi will provide entirely satisfying results.

Of course, many images and situations will prove to be exceptions to this rule of thumb, but image size is a good indicator of acceptable print sizes. If the viewing distance for your final print is a few feet or more away (which often happens with larger prints), you can certainly push the print size up as the increased distance will help hide any problems in the print. A 240 dpi or above standard will allow closer inspection of the print, a desirable attribute for many fine art photographers who expect their work to be viewed closely or held in the hand.

Despite these rules of thumb, sometimes it makes sense just to print your image at the size you want and see how it looks. I’ve been surprised many times at how good prints can look even when the original image was “too small”. I’m happy to work with you and to provide an estimate of how large you will be able to print your files.