10 Apr

Before leaving my new printer for a whole week to embark on a business trip I had to give a really large print a try. I selected a panoramic image of some hoodoos that I captured during my first Alain Briot workshop in the area of Page, AZ. It is one of my larger panoramas, assembled from 22 frames captured with a Canon EOS 5D (then my primary camera, and still my trusty backup for the 5D Mk II) and a 50 mm f/1.4. The finished image is a crop of the total panorama, and it is still more than 110 Megapixel.

Panoramic of a hoodoo cluster, west of Page, AZ

I had a short roll of Breathing Color Elegance Rag loaded (a cotton rag, baryta finish fiber-like glossy paper) with a little more than five feet left, so I decided to see how large of a print I could make. A pleasing crop of the Hoodoo panorama came up with an aspect ratio of about 3.2 :1, or 16 by 52 inches. The file at 360 ppi is huge, but the new MacBook Pro, with its 8 GB of memory handled it flawlessly. This is the largest file I had ever fed to Nik’s Viveza 2.0, but all the toolchain worked flawlessly. After some local contrast/structure/saturation adjustment in Viveza and final output sharpening with PK Sharpener 2.0 it was time to print.

 

The first hiccup came as I went to save my working file before printing… I had not noticed that my document had grown to almost 3 Gigabytes in memory, and I quickly learned that 2 GB was the maximum size for a .psd! After flattening, the image was reduced to a more manageable 900 MB (!), and the save succeeded. Another good thing was the G Drive mini I just picked up – no way I would have had the patience to beam this file over the home wireless to the iMac that runs the printer! The 800Mb/sec firewire interface and the portable drive made sneakernet the most efficient way to go from the living room to the office – a flashback from the 80’s!

Printing to the 4900 went as usual, after having set up a 17” by 60 “ canvas. I grew concerned when the printed detected a clogged nozzle in the first couple of inches of printing, but to my pleasant surprise it stopped, performed a cleaning cycle and restarted printing with no visible artifacts or misalignment. Epson definitely has built a workhorse with the 4900!

I did not time the print, but it took a while, as I had the job set at 2880 dpi (droplets, not pixels) unidirectional… enough time for Whitney to prepare us a delicious breakfast. The results are awesome! A 16” by 52” print with enough detail that holds even under a small loupe! The color tonalities are spot on, and display all sorts of pink, mauve, rust and blue in the shadows from the reflections of the blue sky and the red rocks on the white sand.

I look forward to frame this up when I return from my trip – I am planning a 60” by 24” double mat, with a 2” black border and acrylic glazing to control the overall weight of the finished picture. Now the biggest challenge, finding enough wall space to display it as it deserves!

Stefano

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