If Star Trek can do it…

If Star Trek can do it, so can I, dammit! This blog is getting a reboot. I will start updating again!

So, are you ready for Christmas? It’s a beautiful 75º as I sit outside typing this, but I have to try to get in the Christmas frame of mind! Christmas photocard templates for my photo machines at work are crazy expensive and don’t allow for much customization. Because of this a couple years ago my coworker and I channeled our Photoshop addictions into designing card templates for our customers and then last year it was just me doing it. It’s fun trying to come up with designs the customers will like, but it’s not exactly something I can put off until November. Did you know that some people actually have their Christmas cards ordered, printed, and ready to mail by Thanksgiving? I know! Crazy! And, of course, new card designs means having to redo the PDF catalog that shows them. I definitely plan to get a head start this year! But it’s soooooo hard to think about Christmas when you’re sitting out on the patio!

Last July our friend Mark asked Rick & I if we would fill in on his trivia team for the tournament finals because most of their members had conflicts. The trivia is a weekly league, but our first time playing was in the finals. Me & Rick got kind of hooked and put together our own team when the next season started. The league is through Sporcle.com and we’ve got a pretty solid team put together. We’re definitely qualified for the finals and if we win the tournament there is actual cash prize money! Our biggest weak spot is sports but we even manage to get some of those questions right. In the last couple weeks I’ve started reading books like Mental Floss, The Book: Only the Greatest Lists in the History of Listory and I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot from School when I’ve got a couple minutes to kill. There is a lot of interesting shit out there in the world to learn. It’s also just a lot of fun to have the host ask a question, the whole team gets blank looks, and then all of a sudden I think of something or remember something out of nowhere. It makes my brain feel alive! You can check out the highlight quiz from last week here to get an idea of the huge variety that the questions run.

Printing digital photos

Ah film. Remember film? It still exists, you can still get it processed, and you can still get prints from (most of) those old negatives. But the majority of printing these days definitely comes from digital files. You’d think this would make it easier, and for the most part it does, but here are a few tips to help keep your lab person/printer sane when you come in. (And yes, by ‘your lab person/printer’ I mean ME!)

~ Organization! If you have a disc with 200 + images on it, and you are getting 20 or so printed, make a LEGIBLE list of the file names & numbers IN ORDER! When I’m going down the list to look for the ones you want the computer has them in order, and it makes it so much easier to find the random ones you want if I’m not bouncing up and down all over the file list!

~ Better yet, CDs & DVDs are pretty cheap now, burn a disc of just the images you want printed. You can even put them on a jump drive, you just have to be willing to either leave the drive or wait for the folder of pictures to transfer.

~ But don’t get too organized. I can only load from one folder at a time, so if you have 15 different folders I basically have to load files 15 different times. This increases the chances I’ll miss some, and it increases my frustration. Especially when each folder only has a couple pictures.

~ “But what if I have the folders labeled with the print size (i.e. 4×6, 5×7, etc)?” Don’t worry. That’s ok. That’s actually good organization that helps.

~ iPhoto is evil! Ok, not really, but it can be a PITA. iPhoto is great for the non-pro to keep their files organized on their computer, and to do non-destructive editing. But once you’ve got your pictures ready to print DON’T DON’T DON’T choose that burn disc option up there in the menu. This will give you a disc full of folders & thumbnails & crap that is really only easily useable by loading it into someone else’s iPhoto program. If you are copying photos to a disc out of iPhoto from the menu choose File –> Export…  This will give you a CD that has just one copy of your edited version of each photo in it.

~ Colorspace is important! The two most common ones are Adobe RGB and sRGB. Before having stuff printed check to see what colorspace the printer uses! My Fuji Frontier photo machine is sRGB. It assumes that any file I give it is sRGB. If I print something that’s in a different color space like Adobe RGB it will still print, but the colors will shift. There are other colorspaces out there too, and often there’s no real color change, but you shouldn’t chance it because I’ve never seen anything in the wrong color space look better than if it’s correct.

~ I know your next questions are “How do I know which colorspace I’m in? How do I change it?” I only know how to check it and change it in Photoshop. If you are using a different editing program there is probably a way, but I don’t know it. Google is your friend. In Photoshop I set the little status bar drop window on the bottom of the pictures to show Color Profile. This way anytime I open an image I can tell with just a glance which colorspace it’s in. If it’s in Adobe RGB I will leave it in that until my last save for printing. Adobe is a bigger colorspace and when you convert it to sRGB you will lose some of the range of color so it’s best to just do that after all your editing so you have as much to work with as possible before then. To change it in Photoshop you go to Edit –> Convert to Profile… A box will pop up and it will say Source Space at the top and list a profile. Then under that it will say Destination Space and have a pop-up menu to choose one from. Choose sRGB. Yeah, I know it actually says sRGB IEC61966-2.1. Don’t worry, it’s the right one. You don’t need to ever worry about remembering all those extra letters & numbers.

If I’ve saved this sample correctly you should be able to see a difference between the two versions of each file. Since the change is because of the way the machine reads the file’s colors the two files will usually look EXACTLY THE SAME on your screen, but you could end up with a shit print. Also, skin tones are really affected. A person in an AdobeRGB file printed on my sRGB machine will look really grey, flat, lifeless and dull!

These are just a few of the things that will help out the person at the photo lab who’s printing your pictures, and will also help you get better prints. The best thing you can do if you’re not sure about something – ask the person printing it!

“3:00? I’ll be drunk by then.”

I work in the photo processing lab of a camera store. This post is a true story of a customer I really had.

Nov. 2nd, 2010:
Just had one of my oddest customers ever.
He was tall and had long hair & a beard & mustache. It was one of those icky mustaches that hangs down over the lip. Bleah. And he had that stale smell of a person who smokes and drinks a lot. Kind of like the way my mom smells, but even more so.
He had a disposable camera. When I asked if he wanted prints, scans or just developing he just stood there and looked at me. Then he shook his head. “Whoa, whoa. You just blew my mind with all that. I just want pictures.”
OK, just basic prints then. I ask if he likes matte paper or glossy while showing him the samples of both. He looks at them & says “I don’t know. I just want pictures.”
Alright, no more questions. I’ll just print them on whichever paper is in and we’ll be good.
Then I needed his name and phone number for the bag. I swear, he had to think about what his name was!! No phone number. His phone was dead and he didn’t have a charger. OK then. Then dude asked what time they’d be ready. We’re not a 1 hour lab but I decided to quote about 3 hours rather than the standard next day because I wasn’t sure he’d even remember the next day.
“I can have them ready for you at 3:00, sir.”
His response? “3:00? I’ll be drunk by then.” I think that was a little optimistic on his part because I’m pretty sure he was already most of the way there!
Well, I’ve got almost nothing to do anyway so I tell him I’ll have them in an hour. He wants to pay now because he isn’t sure he’ll have the money in an hour. 0.o. That whole drunk by three thing, i guess.
We don’t ring up rolls of film before processing because the price is based on how many prints you do, but he insisted he needed to pay now so I rang it in for the full number of possible prints.
Then he left.
Or tried to…
I looked up and saw him standing in front of the double doors of our entrance waving to try to get the sensor to open the automatic doors. Too bad we don’t have automatic doors…
LOL. It just amazes me that people can function in life like that.

For the curious, yes, he did indeed remember to come back for the pictures. He was there an hour later almost to the minute.
As for what the pictures were, it was just a group of about 5 or 6 people hanging out at a dive bar. He wasn’t even in any of them. I really was afraid of what I was going to see in them but they were quite boring.

Since then if I’m having a bad day I’ll just randomly say to myself “3:00? I’ll be drunk by then!”