In this story, we will cover the complete “life cycle” of an idea, and opportunity, presented to us by Linda Enger.
Linda is a local Scottsdale Artist, Photographer and Garden Enthusiast. Over the years, she has had many of her works on display in the greater Phoenix area (http://lindaengerphoto.com) and this recent commission was a true combination of all her passions and talents. The image started with one of her acrylic paintings, which she used as a “table top” for an arrangement of polished stones and a mini golden barrel cactus.
Linda chose to use this project as an opportunity to check out the Sony A7R II with its 42 mb files, along with the Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55 mm F 1.8 lens, which she rented from Tempe Camera. She also decided to explore shooting with a focus stacking technique, striving to get as much detail as she could for the areas she wanted to be sharp.
Her final image used nine captures from one set up. Each capture was made with a focus point of a different height going from highest to lowest. This technique is called “focus stacking.” Once she was happy with the final captures, it was time to “go deep” into digital workflow.
The nine images were merged with the help of a focus stacking software called Helicon. Linda then opened the newly compiled image in Adobe camera raw for basic processing, then retouching and digital painting where done on many layers in Photoshop.
Her workflow included a PS file that at times was over six GB due to the number of layers and initial 42mb file size of image! Just in case her “eyeballs had deceived her,” she chose to avoid flattening and merging layers very often. The reason for all the layers was her intent to massage the painted background with additional digital painting and optimize the details of the beads and the golden barrel cactus, while retouching some aspects of the image for a more magician’s “slight of hand” feel.
When she was ready, we received the first .TIF file for print. The outcome was a surprise to all of us.
Although all of our monitors were calibrated, the reds and corals, painstakingly edited in RGB color space, translated very differently via 4-color CMYK direct printing.
Not only did we have to combat the two opposing color space ranges, we also had to balance the red, green and blue tones found throughout the image. Making large overall color moves was not the answer. As one color seemed to be just right, another lost its punch. Selective color shifting was necessary.
“It seemed odd that I felt like I needed to wear sunglasses when working on the image, or viewing it on the monitors at Artisan, the bright coral / orange / reds seemed so intense… and yet I kept having to add more and more vibrance and saturation to get the image to look the way I wanted it to on Dibond, to “sing” as I intended! This workflow became counter intuitive! Our eyes lied! I ended up not hesitating to invest in four tests on the file (as the file evolved) and made sure to look at them under various lighting conditions, indoors and especially outside (shade, sun, sunset). HA! Just as I expected the finished image, displayed outside, has an entirely different look depending upon the time of day it is viewed!
This project was a great learning experience for me! I am a nit picker. And glad I am, working this large I wanted details to be spot on because it is displayed in a location where people can walk right up to it and pixel peep.
Ok, neurotic true confession: I lost sleep! I would wake up from dreams of the image on my monitor with 30 layers and thinking in my dream “oh no, I missed something!”
Linda went back to the “drawing board“ many times, adjusting and tweaking her file. In the end, we produced four separate test prints from her files. Some of them at 100% final print size, cropped to a 12” x 12” area… others as a scaled down “full image print” to get a feel of the overall color shifts, density, gain and loss. The great thing about white Dibond is you can print two-sided and save a few dollars!
The image was finally ready for direct digital print on White Dibond and to stand up to the Scottsdale sun!
A few weeks of testing went by and we were facing an ever-nearing deadline. With a few final adjustments, Artisan Colour received the final file with only five days left to print and cut a 60” x 96” sheet of over-sized white Dibond, complete with 12 holes for the stainless steel stand-offs (Barrpersonalles, for securing the print to the wall).
As you can see in the photos, the scale and color of this print is truly impressive! We invited Linda Enger over for a final viewing, one day ahead of schedule, and then boxed her creation up for transport in a 10-foot rented U-Haul truck.
The day came to install “Emergent” on an exterior wall in the courtyard of Marshall Square: 7077 East Main Street (Main and Marshall Way), on the west side of Expressions Gallery in Scottsdale AZ. This Project was part of Scottsdale Public Art and is also part of the INFLUX Cycle 6 temporary art installations, spanning over 6 different valley cities.
Linda finally rested knowing all her hard work, and that of Artisan Colour, had paid off! But the big boogie man of sun and heat here in sunny Scottsdale is not any concern of hers. Her art had UV protection with no danger of fading for several years in the sun! Just think what the longevity would be like to display it indoors…
This image, along with two other commissioned works by different artists, will be on display for seven months and we do hope you can find the time to stop by and see for yourself what a dedicated team of artists, printers and color fanatics can create when they put their collective talents together. “Emergent ” has arrived in Scottsdale, in all its Arizona colorful glory! To learn more about Linda, please visit:
To see what Dibond can to for you, be sure to visit the website and take advantage of our first ever 30% OFF Special! Use code Dibond30 during check-out. Visit www.artisanhd.com or call us for more information @ 1.877.948.0009