Focal Press Book review (chapters 5- 7)

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Chapter 5 Print Output and Proofing

Evening recommends the Fujix Pictography, the Rolls Royce of desktop color printers. This is one of the few A4 or A3 size (letter or 11x17) printers that can beat the quality of a Kodak dye-sublimation printer. The rest of the chapter touches upon various other printers, usually rather high-end brands.

Relative to the discussion of "poster inkjet plotters," I would say that the quality of the Encad NovaJetPro, even at only 300 dpi, is exhibitable quality if viewed from a normal distance (at close inspection you can see all the individual dots). Encad prints hold their color for months, even in substantial light. The new generation of 600 dpi quality should look even nicer. The Mutah, OEM often sold under other names, also sounds promising. There are a host of new technologies in wide format printing which might be added in the next edition of this book.

Adobe Photoshop for Photographers
Adobe Photoshop for Photographers

The section on Epson inkjet printers might add that most early models required special paper (expensive, up to $1 per sheet) and that ink costs up to $1 per sheet as well (for the model 1500 A3 size (11x17) more than $1 per sheet. Furthermore I found the quality not up to what was claimed, and the printers frequently mangled the printout. Besides that, they were painfully slow and kept the Mac tied up the entire time. They also require buying a software RIP in most cases, something the gullible buyer is not informed of at the start (did you ever wonder why the printer is so cheap? It is a freebee actually, just to get you hooked so you will buy ink the rest of your life). If I am rough on Epson it is because I feel stupid to have been suckered into believing their ads, three dumb times in a row.

Laser printers, especially the brands capable of handling photographs, are not handled really at all. QMS, Xante, Tektronix, and even Lexmark office laser machines are nowadays capable of printing photographs in large quantities at relatively reasonable price, certainly far more economically than an ink jet. Color laser does a good job on normal paper as well. Epson ink jet on normal paper looks like printing on kitchen cleanup paper.

The paragraph on storing digital files might gracefully have cited a more expansive source of information. He is correct about CD-R and the advent of DVD, but DVD variations in themselves would require an entire book to handle. There are web sites about every subject in the world, so here it would have been good to reference a web site that discusses storing digital files. The chapter on image database management did not list Extensis's highly recommended Portfolio system, not Virage, the ultimate high-end digital database management systems. There are others as well, but if you use a system that no one else uses, it is hard to trade data.The pages on Image Protection are more informative.

Chapter 6, Configuring Photoshop

Back to what the author is obviously familiar with, Photoshop itself. I admire a person who can produce professional work on a 17" monitor with 96 MB RAM. When Apple Computer provided (donated) a Mac 9600 to the FLAAR digital imaging program, they outfitted it with a 20" monitor (no 21" monitors were available) and equipped it with 548 MB RAM, which I recently upgraded to max it out at 800 MB RAM. I also replaced the Apple 20" monitor with dual 21" (courtesy of ViewSonic).

A computer technician who was working on my aging no-name PC clone with a 546 chip said "why would you possibly need a better machine, you have wide SCSI and over 100 MB RAM?" But the camera I am working with is technologically capable of producing a single photograph of over 1 GB in size (though I limit them to 410 MB to parse in Photoshop, version 4 at that time; I do not know if Photoshop 5 can handle a larger file). The reason for the size is that we are producing seamless 360 degree panoramas as well as circumferential rollouts in turntable mode. Plans are to recreate certain items of 6th century Maya sculpture at 1:1 original size (such as a stone stelae 8 feet high and 36 inches wide). This is easy to do with an Encad wide-format printer, but requires a good sized file. If you have five versions of the file open for comparative purposes (possible with dual 21" monitora) you need all the horsepower you can have. As the saying goes, "you can never have too much RAM."

In the section on Extras, same situation as in Chapter 5, on odds and ends of equipment. I find a level 0 RAID useful, and need 36 GB on line just for handling a single project. You can't do that with MO disks (we tried with 4.6 GB disks; you can only couple two units together simultaneously). You surely can't do that with CD-ROM either. An entire disk would be filled with just two files. The section on RAM memory and scratch disks is back to the author's strong point, basic Photoshop as software.

With respect to using Norton Utilities, it is the international standard, traditionally. FWB HardDrive (or HardDisk) ToolKit, however, is the new kid on the block. Besides, Norton Utilities was specifically stated to be not allowed in conjunction with the Adaptec Ultra 2 and Remus softRAID system (told me by the technician when I bought the system).

Efficient Work Routines always sounds like a good idea. You can acquire lots of helpful tips from this section of the book. Monitor calibration starts getting deep into heavy going. The section on Photoshop color management gets over my head since even Adobe stumbled on this one, and had to rush out version 5.0.2 before being lynched. All books available on Photoshop naturally cover version 5, so it is all the more confusing, since the changes of .0.2 are not addressed in the books.

The rest of this chapter has quite a lot of important information, except for the fact that now version 5.0.2 has changed the color spaces again, so the reader may not know what parts of the description of version 5.0 still pertain to 5.0.2. The overall information is helpful for going to print. I guess I am always seeking a book with information for desktop publishing, short-run, using a laser printer, where there is no liquid ink, only toner powder. Considering how much color laser has improved, and ink jet as well, more and more people are going to be doing short-run printing on their own desktop, so books devoted entire to printing inks might consider expanding their coverage. Professors, for example, who need to print up handouts for x-hundred students per semester. They are hardly going to sent this to a printing press. Nowadays they can do it all in full color with a color laser printer, especially now that 11x17" printers are available they can collate the large sheets, fold them, and they have a professional handbook in the format of a scholarly journal.

Chapter 7, The Work Space

Here again is where you get your money's worth in tips, and why I recommend this book for beginners and intermediate Photoshop users as well as a good refresher for more advanced users if they want to fine tune their abilities by learning from other masters, such as Evening.

BOOKS
Professional Photoshop 5 by Dan Margulis
Adobe Photoshop for profesionals by Martin Evening
Start with a Scan: A Guide to Transforming Scanned Photos and Objects intoHigh Quality Art," by Janet Ashford and John Odam

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Mac Upgrade and Repair Bible, by Todd Stauffer

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The Official Photo CD Handbook

Start with a Scan

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