Can my prints and reproductions really last over a hundred years?
Yes, absolutely — and then some. Producing archivally stable prints
and reproductions that stand the test of time requires a dedicated
giclée printer equipped with special — and very expensive —
pigments. We are current with the state of the archival art. Even when you
choose to print your order on our cost effective, photo-style paper, we still
use the same archival pigments as for our highest-grade fine art prints and
For the superior 12-color pigment inks we use, the widely
industry-respected Wilhelm Imaging Research (WIR) has predicted archival
stability to last for centuries.
The following are the latest print permanence data from WIR:
|Process & Media
||Display with UV-blocking
|Canon LUCIA Pigment Inks & Hahnemühle/Harman
|Fujicolor Crystal Archive (Silver-Halide)
How can I get really big prints and reproductions?
That question's easy. Just order from us. Send us a really big file
of your image — a file with plenty of pixels. And by the way, please
use little or no image compression (avoid JPEGs!) — see our FAQ: Camera and Digital File Tips and
The above photo shows Bill Nordstrom watching a 3½ x 7-foot
print come off our Canon giclée printer.
If you need something larger, we'll see what we can order or
jerry-rig as a custom product just for you. But here's what our current
supply inventory, standard lab processes and equipment can do:
- Individual ceramic tiles up to 12 x 12 inches
- Mosaics of ceramic tiles as large as you want
- Paper, canvas and polyester-sheet prints up to 44 inches
by virtually any length (up to 50 feet)
- Metal prints up to 32 x 45 inches
- Posters up to 24 x 30 inches
- Greeting cards are 5-1/2 x 7-3/8 inches
Camera and Digital File Tips and Techniques:
How can I capture images that print well?
First, don't overuse your camera's automatic settings. Auto-focus
and auto-exposure algorithms are carefully designed to produce acceptable
results under a very, very wide range of conditions. However, that is a
totally different goal than producing really excellent results under whatever
the exact lighting conditions happen to be when you capture a particular
Second, if possible, set your camera to save images in 'RAW' mode,
or in the uncompressed version of TIFF (Tagged Image File Format). For large,
high-quality prints, the widely accepted JPEG format (Joint Photographic
Experts Group) format is your enemy. As a photographer friend says,
"Over using JPEG is like throwing away your negative." Minimize your use of
JPEG files, or completely avoid JPEG.
The JPEG standard compresses your digital image to produce a smaller file
for quicker file transfer, as well as for increased storage capacity in small
devices. Aggressive compression algorithms can meet these goals only by
distorting your image. Substantial information loss often occurs each and
every time you write or rewrite an image into a JPEG file. Some image editing
software allows you to control the degree of compression; thereby reducing
JPEG's visual distortion — or thereby increasing compression
when it's your friend, such as for a website image file.
The following photo shows the effects of over-compression via the JPEG
format upon a digital image:
Third, if you digitally edit or manipulate your image, then please use the
Adobe RGB 1998 color space. This color space is widely used, though not
universal, among high-end equipment manufacturers. Importantly, Adobe RGB
'98 works best with our equipment, our software, and our calibration
procedures. If you use this color space, then your image's hue,
saturation, and color range are completely compatible with the workflow
within our carefully color-calibrated print lab.
Fourth, for best results, please provide us with the highest
resolution RAW image file format that your digital camera can produce —
a file directly from your camera without any editing or manipulating. Or,
provide us with an uncompressed TIFF image file that has at least 250 DPI
(dots per inch), that uses Adobe RGB 1998 color space and that exactly matches
the size of your print or reproduction with respect to aspect ratio. The first,
raw option provides an excellent starting point for our master print maker
and advanced software algorithms to do their thing. The second, edited option
gives your own personal skill a high degree of control over how your picture
appears when physically printed.
And last, but not least, please don't let this overlong FAQ discourage
you. Making excellent prints and reproductions from less-than-ideal digital
image files is just part of a day's work here at LaserLight Prints.
These four tips and techniques are words of wisdom that might be
impractical in your situation; they are neither hard and fast rules nor
How can I better control the colors with which my prints are rendered?
How do you control color when you print?
We provide our clients with two simple, low-tech solutions:
We'll send you an 8 x 10 proof print. After you have a
look, just phone or email us with your corrections. We charge $25.
- We can consult with you by phone while your image is up on
one of our color-calibrated workstations. We're always happy to
work together with you to improve the quality of your print.
For clients who are technologically inclined, there's a variety of
image editing software available today. Some programs are some simple
to use, some support powerful capabilities, some cost hundreds of
dollars, and some are open-source and free. All allow you to substantially
manipulate your images.
However there might be a significant difference between your image as it
displays on your screen, and your image as rendered on a particular print
Feel free to contact us for a
consultation on calibrating your system. Using standard techniques for
color-calibration, the hues you see will match the hues on your print.
Such a calibration should work with any printmaker that is properly aligned
with the Adobe RGB 98 color space.
The major steps we take to maintain color calibration within our print lab
are as follows:
Each of our Mac-based digital-image workstations includes a high-quality
Light-Emitting Diode (LED) display. We ensure consistent ambient lighting
controlled by a dimmer, to which are display calibration is set.
Our image-adjustment software (the latest Photoshop®), color-correction profiles, printers, display and print
drivers all use the same color space (Adobe RGB 98).
We generate an individual color-compensation profile for each display
in order to precisely align the displayed hues within the Adobe RGB 98 color
space. This calibration process uses a spectrophotometer to accurately measure
the light actually emitted by that particular LED screen. Then based on that
measurement, an individualized color-correction profile is generated and
installed directly into that display's driver.
Color calibration is only part of the issue of controlling the
'look' of your print. No light-emitting display can match the
brightness-contrast curve of a light-absorbing print. The look of your print
will vary widely with the specific print medium you choose. It will also vary
with your lighting conditions.
Ansel Adams taught photographers to previsualize both the deep
shadows and the highlights of the final print before even capturing the image.
Today we can in fact previsualize a print based on how its digital-image file
displays after editing based on our knowledge of the brightness-contrast curve
of that particular print medium.
What is dye-sublimation printing?
Why do you use this process?
The above photo shows Bill Nordstrom lifting a brand new metal
print out of our heat press at the end of the dye-sublimation process.
Making prints or reproductions on metal or ceramic tile requires a dedicated
dye-sublimation printer. We load our dye-sub printer with 7 colors of special
dyes costing hundreds of dollars per liter.
Our dye-sub printer renders your image by depositing dye, via a
giclée printing process, onto specially designed transfer
paper. A blank piece of multi-layer print medium and the transfer paper are
loaded, facing each other, into the heat press. The medium is specially
fabricated to include a lower layer of metal or ceramic tile under a polyester
Next the press heats to about 400° for a few minutes. The heat
causes the dyes to 'sublimate'. In sublimation, the dyes, much like dry
ice, change from their room-temperature solid phase directly into their gas
phase. These gaseous dyes then easily infuse deep into the polyester layer of the
multi-layered print medium.
Unlike inks, these dyes are not merely deposited atop the surface of the print
medium. Furnishing your print glowing luminosity, this deep infusion also provides
either a dramatically high gloss or a silky-smooth matte finish.
>This deep infusion also affords far more protection from
environmental stress than is possible with any paper print. Unless subjected
to direct sunlight, dye-sub prints will outlast dye-based inkjet prints —
outlast not by a modest percentage factor, but rather by a substantial
multiplier. The polyester that holds the dyes within the multi-layer medium
is a shield from ultraviolet (UV) light. This shield means the dyes are far less prone
to fade from exposure to light. The polyester also allows your dye-sub print
to be cleaned with water, household glass cleaner, even lacquer thinner if you rinse it off.
Editing Digital Images:
What image editing and adjustments can you perform for me?
Pretty much whatever you want. Each and every print or reproduction we make is hand
crafted by one of our skilled lab technicians and then quality checked
by Bill Nordstrom personally.
Many of the images we print require adjustments to the
image's aspect ratio. We often make simple adjustments to the color balance,
saturation, or brightness-contrast curve. We are happy to include any
straightforward but customized adujstments based on your specific
requests — for example, you can ask us to bring out the foreground rocks,
or to de-emphasize the texture of the background wall.
We perform such standard adjustments, when needed or requested, at no extra charge.
Our media, pigment inks and dyes are too expensive for us to print without
previewing. And while we've got your image up on our large,
color-calibrated display, it's our pleasure to make a few
straightforward adjustments you may request, or that your image requires.
Beyond the quick-and-easy, we have the highly-specialized skill, experience, software and
equipment to perform the full complement of Photoshop® adjustments. If you are interested, please don't hesitate to contact us for a quote.
File Formats & Sources for Digital Image Files:
What source media can you work from to make a print or reproduction?
Any of our prints or reproductions can be produced from the following
- Send us your digital image file — almost any format works,
but we definitely prefer large 'RAW' files. See also our FAQ: Camera
and Digital File Tips and Techniques
- If we have worked with your image before we will still
retain it in our secure temperature- and humidity-controlled archive
- Your original work of art that we scan
- Your photo transparency, negative or original print that we scan
What is giclée printing?
Why do you use this printing process?
The giclée printing process is widely used for photographic prints
and artwork reproductions of fine art or museum quality. You can
think of the phrase 'giclée printing' as analogous
to 'inkjet printing'. The word 'giclée' is actually
a neologism based on the French verb gicler, meaning to spray or to squirt.
However giclée printing and inkjet printing are not like
brother and sister; rather, they are cousins who have diverged
The giclée side of the family has been optimized for artistic
expression using fine detail and a broad color gamut. For example, each
giclée nozzle must be able to produce a stream of ink or dye at
about 1/100th the diameter of a human hair. On the receiving end,
modern giclée media require require elaborate manufacturing processes
and high-tech chemistry in order to properly absorb such tiny streams. The
costs of inks, dyes, media, and printer maintenance are significant, but
lowering such costs is never a design goal that supercedes image quality.
In contrast, the inkjet side of the family must use color to convey
information and emphasis. Such use of color is in the context of
business and home-office use. Provided that color rendering meets a basic
standard, the design goals of cost-effective operation, ease of use, and low
maintenance generally supersedes photo-realism and aesthetic pleasure.
Equipment designed to make low-cost prints in high-volume contexts is a
design trade-off. Its image quality is well above that of an office
printer, but well below our fine art giclée technology. 4-color
'photo quality' equipment is widespread. In contrast, we print with
either 12-color inks or 7-color dyes.
What does it mean when a particular medium is rated at 97 ISO
In colorimetry, "whiteness" is the degree to which a surface is defined as
white. Two pieces of paper could appear equally white when viewed individually,
but careful side-by-side comparison will reveal one as noticably whiter than
the other. This term precisely quantifies such differences. For example, white
wrapping paper may be rated at around 85 ISO whiteness, while everyday office
copier paper may be rated at 94.
The International Commission on Illumination (aka CIE — Commission
Internationale de L'Éclairage) describes whiteness as follows:
"To promote uniformity of practice in the evaluation of whiteness of surface
colors, it is recommended that these formulae be applied only to products that
are called "white" commercially, that do not differ much in color and
fluorescence, and that are measured under equivalent conditions."
What are the differences among the various types of paper you offer?
The following table summarizes objective characteristics of our paper
||Price for 16 x 24"
||Hahnemühle Photo Luster 290 Paper
||Hahnemühle Photo Glossy 290
||Fujifilm Pearl Metallic
||Hahnemühle William Turner
||Hahnemühle German Etching
||Hahnemühle Photo Rag Bright White
||Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta
||Harman Gloss Baryta
The following table summarizes subjective characteristics of our paper
||Newly released and significantly improved as to weight and
whiteness. Has the elegant look and feel of traditional E-surface,
wet-chemistry photographic emulsion
||Flexible as to black-and-white, color, image style
||Just released and significantly improved as to weight, rigidity,
whiteness and ink absorption
||Flexible as to black-and-white, color, image style
||Outstanding color gamut with beautiful high-gloss finish
||Excels at high-contrast color, adds unique metallic look to black-and-white
||Heavy weight and matte white provides the texture, look and feel of
traditional fine art watercolor or sketch paper
||Excels at fine art reproductions — popular with painters, sketch
||Fine-grained but velvety smooth, heavy weight, white-etching medium
||Excels at reproducing watercolors, pencil drawings, oil paintings
||Bright-white look and subtle low-tooth feel
||Excels at high-contrast images
||Wide-gamut, high-depth color and superior image definition
||Excels at black-and-white with high density and fine gray tones
||High gloss aids deep blacks, high whites and bright color saturation
||Flexible as to black-and-white, color, image style
How do you scan art with your Cruse Synchron Moving-Table Scanner?
Why can't I just snap a picture of it with a high-quality digital
Capturing your artwork digitally in a high-quality manner is critical to how
any reproductions will look. Capturing accurately requires specifically
advanced technology. Even if you get perfectly even lighting from a
color-balanced source (e.g., outside on an overcast day), camera lens
imperfections and perspective effects will still be apparent in your digital
capture. Every lens has edge distortion. Critical photo viewers are accustomed
to such anomalies, even in fine art photography, and such undesired effects may
quickly transform what you envision as an authentic reproduction of your fine
art into a merely documentary snapshot.
Our Cruse Synchron moving-table scanner is the most sophisticated device of
its kind available today. It is world-class equipment for reproducing artwork
without any observable flaws or distortions. The Getty Museum, the Smithsonian
Institution and the Vatican all use cameras from this same brand of products.
With its highly calibrated light source and motion-controlled table, this
scanner will beat out any other camera or scanning system on the market for the
capture of fine art. It handily accommodates even framed artwork, accurately
capturing work that remains under glass or in a deep frame. It also handles
collage-style artwork, up to about one inch of variation in surface depth.
The Synchron efficiently resolves many issues associated with more
conventional means of scanning paintings and mixed-media art. For example,
when photographing a painting even with a large view camera, shadows may be
too dark or muddy, highlights anemic or blown out, and corners vignetted due
to the normal optical fall-off of a lens (the tendency of an image to darken
toward the corners). While photographing artwork with a
digital camera back can avoid some issues, it is still difficult to compensate
for lens fall-off or to achieve consistently even lighting.
The Cruse incorporates a linear CCD array aligned to the center of the lens
for optimal sharpness. The captured digital image is then color corrected via
a careful calibration system. The Synchron's table moves under very bright
color-corrected fluorescent strips to provide perfectly even lighting, as well
as a high-res scan that is absolutely planar and sharp from corner to corner.
How do you scan photos with your Heidelberg Tango PMT Drum Scanner?
Why can't I just scan them on an inexpensive flatbed scanner?
The photographer's original transparency or negative is brought into the
digital world with this absolute finest high-end drum scanner ever manufactured,
fully updated with the latest NewColor 7000 software. For the best possible result,
all transparencies are mounted on the optical-grade plexiglass scanning drum
under clear mylar in a special Kami mounting fluid to protect your originals
from dust and scratching. As the drum spins away at 1800 rpm, the centrifugal
force presses your original perfectly flat and stationary for the half-hour
scanning process at 12,000 DPI (dots per inch). The standard International
Color Consortium (ICC) scan profile is also incorporated into the raw digital
images for color calibration that is as close to perfection as possible.
The extremely large digital file produced by the Tango is then loaded into
one of our powerful color-calibrated Mac workstations where we adjust the
image with Photoshop to accurately and elegantly reproduce your transparency.
If you have given us any specific instructions, then at this time we effect those
corrections and adjustments. Finally, any dirt and scratches are eliminated.
The completed digital image is sent to our giclée printer for an
8 x 10 proof, or for the final larger print you ordered.
Sure you could simply scan your photos on almost any flatbed scanner. That
certainly would help preserve your casual vacation photos. But just think back.
After just a few year's time, hasn't even the most informal and casual vacation
snapshot ever, somehow, magically transformed itself into a fine family heirloom?
Because if so... then as with your precious fine art film or painting originals,
such an inferior low-resolution capture would scarcely do them any real justice.
Terms and conditions:
What else do I need to know?
We do our utmost to protect your precious original once delivered to us.
However if it is lost, stolen, or damaged, our liability is limited to
replacing it with a like quantity of equivalent raw media.
Because of the elaborate, oxygen-free manufacturing process involved in
fabricating a polyester layer atop a sheet of aluminum (as in semiconductor
fabrication), occasional minor flaws may be present though barely visible in
our ultra-gloss prints, reproductions and signs. If this is of any concern to
you, we recommend you select one of our satin-finish products or contact us for a