Preparing an image for canvas printing

The cost of full colour printing on fabric, usually canvas, has plummeted over the last eight or so months with the cost of a 16” x 20” canvas print now around the $55 mark (plus postage); depending where you get it done. Earlier in the year this sized fabric print was around $120 (Australian prices). But, and this is a BIG but, this price is for ‘final supplied’. This means that you have to provide the finished final digital file for printing and that the people doing the printing take no responsibility for colour casts, insufficient resolution, or sharpness in the ‘final’.

So if your picture comes back and people have greenish or over-yellow faces and this was in the final supplied, then don’t ask for your money back. Ditto if you get your picture back and the resolution was so low it looks as grainy as gravel; unless you were going for that look.

So what do you need to do to ensure you are going to provide a useful final?

Note that the following assumes you have an image of sufficient
size and resolution to begin with.

Firstly, check the Web site of the service you are going to use and see what, if any, specific instructions they provide for preparing your final; then consider . . .

You need to ensure that the final is colour correct, or, if you are not going for colour correct (i.e., you are going for sepia or duo-tone or grey scale, etc.) that the colours—when viewed on a trusted near-colour correct screen—are as you intend them to be in the print.

A year or so ago the general advice was to slightly over-saturate the colours for fabric prints however modern inks and fabric printers have improved and over-saturation is generally not required. However check the instructions for the particular service you plan to use and see if they advise that you do this.

You need to ensure that you have sufficient resolution built into the final for the size of print you are doing, and this also needs to factor in the viewing distance. The greater the typical viewing distance the lower the resolution can be. For a 16” x 20” print with a typical viewing distance of 1.0 to 1.3 metres I would recommend a minimum resolution of 150 dpi. If your starting image does not permit you to resample to 150 dpi I would recommend strongly against trying to up-sample the image. Unless you know what you are doing then up-sampling (adding pixels where none existed before) almost always provides an unwelcome outcome. It is always better to just go for a lower resolution print—say 130 dpi.

Finally you need to sharpen/un-sharpen*. This is a little tricky and also subject to personal preferences and the subject. Some subjects are better printed soft. Others need to be printed hard/sharp. It is difficult to advise on sharpening/un-sharpening but the general advice is to sharpen more than you think you should when printing on fabric.

One note on un-sharpening. You only ever do this when you have completely finished resizing/re-sampling the image.

Actually there is one more thing you need to consider with fabric printing: What do you want to do with the wrap-around edges? This is called canvas-wrap or gallery-wrap and there are two options. You can include the wrap around edges in your final which means your final will be slightly larger than 16” x 20” (this is called an ‘image border’), or you can usually instruct the print service to simple extend the edges—which means they don’t use part of your final for the edges but they extend the colours of the edges of your final for the wrap-around (this is called a ‘mirror border’). There is a third option some services offer. This is to simply colour the edges using a colour from the print—like blue if there is a lot of blue sky (this is called a ‘colour border’, or for my American readers it’s a ‘color border’).

When you save your final ready I suggest saving it as a PSD or TIFF (no compression) and not as JPG. Saving as a PSD or TIFF will ensure no quality is lost from the file. If you save as a JPG, even at the highest setting, you will lose IQ (image quality) information from the picture. However this will depend on what file formats your printing service supports, but seriously, if they don’t support PSD and TIFF then I would be wondering just how good they are.

Saved as an uncompressed TIFF or a PSD file a 16” x 20” image at 150 dpi is going to be about a 20MB file. Saved as the highest quality JPG file the file size is 6MB.

All sound too hard? Alternatively, if you are using a ‘local’ service, you can sit down with a consultant and they will work through this with you on their computer. But this service is generally (almost always) not free. Also, and I shouldn’t say this (but it’s true), some of these consultants are not as knowledgeable as they should be about what they are doing.

You can also Google the Web for more hints and tips on preparing a fabric final.

I am about to try a couple of fabric prints. I will let you know how I get on.


* Sharpening of colour images actually requires un-sharpening. Confusing I know, but such is life.

Down south on holidays—Forester achieving excellent ‘mileage’

The wife and I are currently on holidays down Busselton way. It is mid-spring in Western Australia so the cooler and wetter south-west is looking and feeling nice. If there was some kind of work down here I could easily move down here to live.

Also it is something like about 15 years or so since the wife and I last went anywhere on holidays.

For the first couple of days it sort of took a little getting into, but now, on day five of our time away, I think I am starting to get the hang of this holiday thing. So much so that I agreed to extending our time away by a couple of days despite the relatively high daily rate where we are staying.

As I like driving and as I am also currently into photographing gates we have done quite a bit of travelling around since we got here. Probably a bit more than the average holiday-er (sic) does down here. But Busselton is a good base of operations, so to speak, for spurring out in various directions looking for old gates or anything really old to photograph.

So far we have spurred out to Capel, Boyanup, Dardanup, Donnybrook, Vasse, Dunsborough, Margret River, Cowaramup, and a few places in between.

DashComputer-SmallI am very happy about the ‘mileage’—kilometreage just doesn’t sound right, besides it is not a real word—I am getting in my 2014 Forester XT. I am achieving about 7.2 litres/100 klms, which works out to something like 37.9 miles per imperial gallon.

The Forster holds 60 litres, so based on this I should be able to go about 850 kilometres on a full tank. And this is basically with three people in the car (my wife and me—and I count for two people) and lots of stop-start driving and engine idling as I stop and do u-turns to go back to gates I just drove past.

In future posts I will share some of the photographs I have taken.


Man oh man! Now it’s SquareSpace 7

Regular readers will know I have been dithering this way and that about upgrading my site from SquareSpace 5 to SquareSpace 6. In the two years since SquareSpace 6 was released I have not done it.

Now SquareSpace have released SquareSpace 7.

The writing is on the wall. Sooner or later, and it looks more like sooner, I am going to have to upgrade from SquareSpace 5.

The two biggest concerns are:

  1. I will lose all my ‘tight’ formatting—the careful way I have positioned pictures and the way the text flows around them. After upgrading to SquareSpace 6 or 7 my text might say “See picture at right” but because the pictures and text were re-aligned by the upgrade the picture is no longer “at right”.
  2. I will not be able to compose my postings off-line and then, when I have them ready, upload them and post them. Many of my posts are crafted over a couple of days using Microsoft’s Live Writer and then when I have them ready I upload them. With Live Writer I can see exactly how they are going to appear when posted.

There are some upsides to SquareSpace 6/7 that I like.

  1. It manages pictures better. I would not need to post the hi-resolution versions of pictures over at SmugMug and link to them. They could reside right here in SquareSpace and would only need to be uploaded once. I might even be able to close the SmugMug account and save some money.
  2. Pictures and text are automatically re-sized and re-aligned by SquareSpace for people using smaller display devices such as tablets and smartphones to provide optimum viewing on the device being used.
  3. Better integration to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Not that I need or use this but it might be useful.

So I might have to add a task to my list of jobs to do. After I have finished cleaning out my study, sorted out my technology (including upgrading my main PC to Windows 8.1 and re-building/re-configuring my QNAP server), gone through all my old slides and worked out which ones to scan, then I should probably move the Abalook site over to SquareSpace 6/7.

So much to do. So little time.


When I was younger: Gunyidi Pool

When I was younger my sister used to talk about how all of her gang would go down to Gunyidi Pool for something to do now and then. Gunyidi Pool is east of the Gunyidi railway whistle stop along—but not actually on—the Midlands Road between Watheroo and Coorow (in Western Australia).

In her day, based on what I have gleaned here and there, this was a fresh water pool with a white sandy beach. So it was like a mini-beach in the middle of the bush about six kilometres east of the Gunyidi whistle stop. Also, back then, there was some kind of jumping-off platform built in the middle of the pool.

By all reports Gunyidi Pool was not that big and not that deep.

About seven years ago (June, 2007) on a trip back to my home town with my brother-in-law, his wife, my wife, and our son we decided to try and find this Gunyidi Pool from earlier days. Sort of just to prove its existence really, and to see what it looked like now.

From checking into it on the Web I already knew that some 50 years on from when my sister used to go there it now rarely, if ever, has water in it. But even so I thought it would be interesting to see.

Well, back then in 2007, we found Gunyidi Pool; or at least where the pool used to be.

As you make the right hand turn off into Gunyidi Pool you are driving through low typical WA sand plain scrub. Then as you approach where the pool is/was you suddenly, unexpectedly, encounter tall trees. There are large eucalypts that I know as River Gums and there are also some kind of conifers as well, although many of the conifers are looking like they are not doing very well and a number of them have died and fallen over.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 01-Small

[Clicking any picture will open hi-res version from Abalook’s SmugMug]

In the picture above you can see the white ‘beach sand’ in the centre where the pool was. There are two people in that picture as well. Can you spot them?

The following shot shows one of the dead conifers laying on the ground to the right of the car.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 02-Small

On the horizon you can see what the normal bushy scrub in the area looks like. So these large trees here are an anomaly. Whether they are self seeded and grew because of the fresh water or whether someone planted them around the pool 50 or 60 years ago I cannot be sure. Possibly the same person/people who built the diving platform in the middle of the lake.

The next picture gives a better idea of the size of the fallen tree.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 03-Small

The tip of the fallen tree extends to the right of the picture, but someone has used a chain saw to cut through the tree to allow vehicles to get past it. Again, off to the right you can see the normal bush scrub for this area. Scrub little more than double car height.

You can also see dead and dying trees that are up the side of the ‘beach’ and are too far away from whatever subterranean fresh water is still available here.

This last picture is from the east side of the pool and shows a couple things.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 04-Small

The first thing I noticed here is that the sand starts off as a creamy kind of colour and then turns white the closer you get to where the pool was (to the right hand side of the picture). The conifers on this side of where the pool was are healthier and there are even younger lush green conifers growing in the white sand on this side.

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of it but in the middle of the pool we did find evidence of the platform that my sister told me about. There are rotted stumps of posts and some rotted planks with a piece of corrugated custom orb nailed to them.

I suspect that this pool was fresh water and that it was feed by a spring rather than run off but I can’t find anything on the Web to confirm this.

Well I hope someone finds this interesting. One day, gods willing, I might get back there and see what toll nature has taken over the last seven or so years.

Note that all pictures link to a full resolution 1,600 pixel wide version in SmugMug.


iPhone 6 camera tops DxO charts

Digital Optics (DxO) have recently tested the camera in the iPhone 6 (both models) and have rated it the best IQ (image quality) of any smartphone they have tested—see the following chart.


The 8 megapixel camera in the iPhone with its five element f2.2 lens even knocks out the 20 megapixel camera in the Sony Xperia Z3.

iPhoneLensBecause of the low-ish pixel count the iPhone 6 has far fewer issues with digital noise compared to camera-phones with higher pixel counts. Due to the lower pixel density there is less pixel bleed thereby resulting in a more vibrate and crisper outcome straight off the sensor.

Hence Apple need to do far less post-processing manipulation of the image to calm down the digital noise and can therefore put more post-processing effort into enhancing the image with less overall destruction of the original quality. Whereas smartphones with much higher megapixel counts have to do significant potentially image harming post-processing to calm down the digital noise, and then they have to try and bring back the focus (sharpening), contrast, and colour (vibrancy).

Apple are leveraging the well known digital imaging law, that, all other things being equal, a lower pixel density provides a higher image quality. This is why the relatively massive sensors in half-frame and full-frame DSLR-style cameras are able to provide the image quality that they do—they have such low (relative) pixel densities.

Also, like the top-end compact cameras and optional on most DSLRs, Apple have put phase detection focussing into the iPhone 6. This should provide faster and more accurate automatic focussing.

So based on the camera the iPhone 6 is a winner. Considering that a third of smartphone buyers in Australia apparently make their final choice based on the camera then this should go well for Apple.

However, one thing I can tell you without any fear of being wrong is that Samsung and the rest will not be happy with Apple beating them on camera phone image quality. You can bet the family pet that Samsung, Nokia/Microsoft, Sony, Motorola/Google, and others in the land of Android and Windows Phone are working 24/7 to try and put together a camera phone to beat the iPhone 6.


HSD: Missed mentioning my 1,000th post

Darn it. I normally keep an eye on these kinds of things, but three posts ago I did my 1,000th post. According to my figuring the 1,000th post would have been: “Could it be that Twin Peaks is coming back?

I feel like I should have had a 1,000th post party or something. Or maybe have produced a 1,000th post commemorative coin. Or had a 1,000th post baseball cap made. Oh well, maybe when I do the 2,000th post then; which, based on how long it took to get to 1,000 posts, will be sometime in late 2019 or early 2020.

I wonder how many words that is? I could probably do a rough estimate simply by working out some kind of average number of words per post and then, you guessed it, multiply it by 1,000.

Maybe at some later time. Can’t be bothered right now.

Holy Cow … imagine how many pictures I have cropped and cleaned for posting. Almost no picture posted has not been cropped, resampled, and prepared for optimum size and impact posting. Even the screen captures are cleaned up and brightened before being posted.

Imagine the hours ‘invested’! If you assume about three hours per post, and some posts take much longer than that with images and research (some posts are compiled over days), then that would be 3,000 hours. At something like $85 per hour that works out to $255,000 or $51,000 per year.


The 4K TV push is about to crank up

With the market for large 1080p HD TVs basically saturated, manufacturers and retailers have been trying for the last two to three years to find the ‘next big thing’ that will get people to go out and buy new TVs like they were eight to ten years ago.

They have tried 3D TVs. This basically had zero impact. Nobody cares much for the idea of 3D movies in the first place, and even less for 3D TVs in the home where you have to sit within a 15 degree angle in front of the TV within 2.5 to 3.5 the width of the TV back from the TV and wear glasses of some kind. Hmmmm.

Then they tried the various ‘smart’ TVs. A smart TV is basically a TV with an operating system built in; usually Andriod.

Then they tried TVs that can connect to your in-house data network, either via cable connect or WiFi.

Then they tried combinations and variations of all three.

But nothing really moved the needle. What they want are big sales akin to the move from 576i CRT TVs to 1080p LCD/Plasma TVs.

So now they are about to focus on their Ace card—the 2160p UHD (Ultra-high definition) 4K TV. A 4K TV has four times the pixel density of a 1080p HD TV.

UDHTVLet’s just take a look at this 4K thing. What does the 4K mean? It basically means that there are supposed to be about 4,000 or 4K columns of pixels. On a true 4K screen the x,y pixel counts are 4,096 x 2,160. But this is actually a true 4K 16:10 computer monitor. This is NOT what you get in a 4K TV screen. Firstly TV screens are 16:9 and not 16:10. Secondly the TV industry decided to simply double the current 1,920 pixel columns from the 1080p HD screen and get 3,840 pixel columns. So a 4K TV screen is actually more like 3.9375K.

Based on this line of thinking then the current 1080p HD TV (which has 1,920 pixel columns) is a 2K TV and the original 720p HD TV (which has 1,368 pixel columns) would be a 1.3K TV.

Now I have no doubt that a 4K TV showing 4K media input is amazing.

The problem? Apart from demonstration input there is no 4K media input. None. Zip. Zero.

Even worse, at this stage about 90 percent of all free-to-air and ‘cable’ TV is not even 1080p; it is 720p or lower and your TV has to ‘up-scale’ it to 1080p—which in many cases actually makes it look slightly fuzzier than if you watched it on an actual 720p TV.

Also, depending which Web site numbers you elect to believe, only about 15 to 30 percent of Blu-ray movies are 1080p. The other 70 to 85 percent are 720p (or lower). So even if you play Blu-ray the odds are that either the TV or the Blu-ray player is still probably having to up-scale from 720p to 1080p.

On the upside most movies shot on 35mm film could be re-digitised to a more-or-less genuine 4K, but that does involve studios paying for this to be done and then transferred to Blu-ray. This costs 100s of thousands of dollars per movie to do and takes time to post-process. Then we will have a whole new slew of Blu-ray disks coming out tagged as 4K and we will have to buy our disks again for the movies we love.

In order for TV stations to broadcast anything ‘live’ in 4K they are going to have to buy new 4K cameras. So while most live sports broadcasts are currently in 1080p all their video cameras will need replacing with 4K units before they can start broadcasting sports or the morning news in 4K.

For those into downloading or streaming, once real 4K media starts to turn up—as opposed to 1080p media up-scaled to 4K—for the same quality compression the file size going to be about 4 times the size. So an episode of Game of Thrones with good quality compression will go from about 1.2GB to around 4GB. Also we know that Season 5 of Game of Thrones is going to be shot in 4K although sadly seasons 1 through 4 were only shot in 2,880 x 1,620, which in the “K” notation would be maybe 3K.

From what I can find on the Web there is no TV series currently being shot in 4K, although, as is the case for the movies, the older TV series that were shot on 35mm film could—in theory—be digitised to 4K standard.

So? To buy 4K or not?

I think the marketing of 4K TVs is going to be a lot more successful than for 3D and smart TVs. Manufacturers and retailers are desperate to sell big numbers of TVs again. People do like crisper more vibrant TVs.

The almost complete lack of actual 4K media is an issue, but the vast bulk of people will not understand or realise this, and this will work in favour of the manufacturers and retailers. And you can be sure the demonstration 4K media that they will have in the stores will look frigging awesome.

There are some 4K demonstration videos available from YouTube. You can have a look at one here although without an actual 4K TV you will not really see anything different. True 4K (4,096 x 2,160) has been available to computer users for a couple of years so if you have such a computer screen and card capable of this you could watch this YouTube demo in 4K.

Unlike with 1080p I don’t think the TV stations and media creators are going to get into creating 4K media until after they see how 4K sales go to see if the demand is really there. So it is going to be a lot more chicken-and-egg than the change over to 1080p was where the TV stations were marketing HD ahead of TV sales.

Another consideration these days is that a significant percentage of TV and movies are viewed on ‘portable’ devices such as tablets, mobile phones, and other computers. This media—from downloads or streaming services—is typically highly-compressed 1K video. If people are happy with this then there is totally no reason to even consider 4K.

I certainly won’t be rushing to upgrade to 4K. Maybe in five years if it takes off and 4K media does start to appear. Maybe.


It’s official then … Twin Peaks Season 3 to be made

Making a third season of the landmark TV series Twin Peaks has been talked about for a number of years, but the creators of Twin Peaks have consistently denied that they had plans for a third season—25 years after the first two seasons. But sometime yesterday David Lynch (Writer/Director) and Mark Frost (Writer/Producer) jointly confirmed that they are planning to write and produce season three for release sometime in 2016, and that Showtime has given the project the big thumbs-up.

What else do we [think we] know at this stage?

A number of the original cast members will be returning in their original roles and Kyle MacLachlan (Special Agent Dale Cooper) has indicated that his is in.

David Lynch will direct all nine of the new episodes—no rotating director roster as is customary with TV series.

Lynch and Frost will write all episodes.

I’m not too sure but I think Lynch and Frost might have a couple of firsts here. Such as making the third season of the TV series 25 years after the last season, and somehow [we are yet to see how] continuing the story with many of the same actors in the same roles.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I see one of the big issues being making the series interesting to a whole new audience who have never seen the first two seasons or the movie while still keeping the huge (and fiercely loyal) existing fan base happy. Showtime have said they will re-run seasons one and two leading up to the release of the first episode of season three, but that does not mean people will watch them.

So now we just have to watch all the titbits coming out to see what we can learn about season three.


Could it be that Twin Peaks is coming back?

For those of us that are paying attention there are certain little hints and wisps of smoke appearing that seem to suggest that the creators of the TV series Twin Peaks might be up to something. Something along the lines of maybe a Twin Peaks reboot, or maybe a Twin Peaks mini-series, or possibly even a second Twin Peaks movie about the town of Twin Peaks 25 years later.

TPbirdAs readers of this blog would be aware, Twin Peaks, at its time, was the most amazing TV series put to air. It was so amazing that it has stood the test of time. Because of this there are many fans who do not want to see the creators try and bring the Twin Peaks magic back because something so fine just cannot be recreated. However there are just as many fans who want to see what David Lynch and Mark Frost would do with a new Twin Peaks 25 years later.

Earlier this year David Lynch released the Blu-ray packaging of Twin Peaks called “Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery” which included the TV series and the prequel film Fire Walk With Me. This has sold exceptionally well and probably mostly to fans who already own the two previous DVD box set releases.

Each year in America the Twin Peaks festival sells out about six months before it even happens.

But Lynch and Frost have a lot of hard thinking to do if they were seriously going to try and somehow re-spawn the Twin Peaks magic today. In order for the economics to work they would need to put something together that pleased the current fan base while attracting tens of thousands of new viewers who have never heard of Twin Peaks. The new story would have to somehow dovetail into the old story but at the same time not rely too heavily on it or new viewers would not tag along.

CoopKyleAlso they would need to use some of the original actors and, to my thinking, it would be almost mandatory that Kylie MacLachlan (Special Agent Dale Cooper) had a primary part to play.

But then how do they handle the fact that at the end of the series Special Agent Dale Cooper became the host of the evil spirit ‘Bob’. Would he still be the host of Bob 25 years later? I don’t really see how that would work.

I will admit it would be seriously interesting to see how Lynch and Frost approach this, assuming they are actually even thinking of doing it.

Maybe they could get Zooey Deschanel in there somewhere. Sorry. Just thought I would drop that in there.

The other things that fans of Twin Peaks are pointing out is that in the TV series the dead Laura Palmer says to Special Agent Dale Cooper in one of his dreams “I’ll see you again in 25 years” and, depending when you count from, 2014/2015 is 25 years later.

But the big thing that has really set the Twin Peaks fan community off is this—


[The image above links to the source at the Welcome to Twin Peaks site]

At exactly the same time (11:30 p.m.) on the same day (3rd of Oct) Mark Frost and David Lynch both put the following statement on their Twitter feeds: “Dear Twitter Friends: That gum you like is going to come back in style.”

So why would the primary writer and the main director of the Twin Peaks TV series (Series 1 anyway) post a well known and key phrase from the series at the same time on the same day about 25 years from when it was said?

Crap! Maybe I need to get a Twitter account now.

<<< Edit … Just thought I would add this >>>

Found this looking for Twin Peaks stuff with Google. This is Sherilyn Fenn on the cover of Playboy in December 1990. Sherilyn played Audrey Horne in the series.


<<< Edit, just saw this at Welcome to Twin Peaks >>>

It was 11:30 a.m. when Special Agent Dale Cooper drove into Twin Peaks at the start of the TV series 25 years ago. It was 11:30 p.m. exactly when both Lynch and Frost tweeted their synchronised tweets.

Now that cannot be a coincidence. But I am not sure of the significance of the 12 hour difference. Is it s time zone thing? Or was the 12 hour difference intentional? And if it was intentional then what is the message in that?


Windows 9 … Errr, make that Windows 10

So it seems that Microsoft is going to name the next release of Windows as Windows 10, skipping right over Windows 9. Not too sure of the logic of going from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 but I am sure the marketing people at Microsoft will have a good story to tell.


Apart from all the technology improvements under the covers, Windows 10 will have a re-worked user interface that further improves on the Start/Task bar that was brought back with Windows 8.1.

I am sure we will find out a lot more about Windows 10 as we move towards the release which is planned for around mid-next year.