photography (n.) from Gk. "photo" meaning light, and Gk. "graphy" meaning draw

Photo: Driftwood logs on beach, Vargas Island, Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia

Now this is exciting…

One of the most gratifying things for a photographer is seeing your images printed large. Well, for years I’ve wanted to get started doing giclée prints (that’s when a photographic image is printed on canvas). I’ve finally done my first two, through photographer Mark Penney at the Mark Penney Gallery in Ucluelet.

And they look great!

It is very interesting, selecting which prints to do as a giclée. Because those that look great as a standard photographic print may not look so great on canvas – I’m thinking of images where the sharpness is really important, such as some wildlife images e.g. bears and eagles.

But for images that already have a more painterly feel – which is what I strive for in my landscape photography, trying to get something that, even though it is a photo, feels more artistic, like a painting – well, a giclée can be simply stunning.

This was really brought home to me last year when I saw a photo of two bald eagles sitting in trees, taken by Ucluelet photographer Don Osborne. I first saw it as a standard photographic print and thought, “Hmm, it’s nice, but the eagles are kind of small…” Then I saw his giclée of the same print – it is absolutely beautiful!

Somehow, in the flat photographic print, the expectation is sharp wildlife – and to me, the small eagles and somewhat misty lighting in the trees disappointed. But put that same photo on canvas, and suddenly it doesn’t matter that the eagles are small because it is the whole image that you are looking at, not just the eagles. And the canvas texture emphasizes the mistiness of the image, giving it a very artistic feel: it feels like an oil painting.

So, the lesson is (to me, anyway): select carefully how and why you print each image. This image above is one that I took several years ago, on slide. I’ve always liked it, and I printed cards of it a few years back – but it never really felt like the kind of image that would be worth printing as a large photographic print for framing. But when I started thinking “giclée”, it was one of the first images that came to mind.

And, I just viewed the first print last week. Honestly, it looks great. And seeing it for the first time at 24″x36″ yielded a few happy surprises too. Both the original slide and the scan-quality are so sharp that there is a lot of detail in the image that even I didn’t know was there – lots of fine ripples in the sand in the foreground (which you won’t see in this web-resolution image) that really stand out.

So I am excited about this. There will be more giclées coming!

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