But Is It Art?

For a number of keen photographers, finding a better print quality may not be that easy. If you look at the difference between good quality photo prints and the amazing look of fine art photography in galleries … the gap remains a chasm!

What you may be looking for is giclée printing on top quality papers. For example, one of your prints on a fine art paper can maintain the subtle lighter shades, without loosing definition in shadows. Having had our print and imaging links running for a couple of months, we thought we’d find out how results compare with other print systems. Here’s one personal view of the process.


Giclée Prints

Giclee Print on fine art paperThe reason I had a look at the DIYframing prints was to see if a different paper would make any difference. I had decided not to bother with large format printers: running costs and developing the technical knowledge are expensive, time consuming and not particularly “future – proof”. I would rather spend a bit more on the print and let the experts absorb costs and professional development hassles. I have used a number of very good on-line photo print sites. Enlarged prints on the various photo papers available have always been really good and (I thought) as much as I wanted. What changed my opinion was the quality of a couple of canvas prints I’d had done. They looked richer: colour tones were more interesting and seemed to have more depth. Then at Focus On Imaging I saw a whole range of images on a fine art paper. Colours were both more intense and subtle at the same time – a completely different look.


I was also told that these were giclée prints. In the back of my mind I had a vague idea that this meant better quality in some way. There are real reasons why this type of print is better. The range of, and transition between, shades are far better than traditional methods. Light fastness is also improved – in fact there’s plenty to read up, about this, on all sorts of sites if you are interested. The first thing I noticed about the print range offered on the DIY site is that all of the prints are giclée prints, whether on gloss, matt or fine art paper.


The process from start to finish was not what I was used to: no simple on-line uploads and wait for a “tube” to arrive. It was a slightly more time consuming process, but actually that was the start of, what I now see as, a real positive difference. As instructed from site guidance I produced a very large file of my chosen image: increasing the resolution to 300 dpi, setting the dimensions to the paper size (A3 – 440 mm wide) for the print and saving in TIF format. This produced a very large file (around 30 MB) that I saved to CD (and labelled). There is a printable PDF transfer form to complete indicating paper selection and any finish notes. I enclosed that with the CD and posted to the print room address. The other end of it is placing the order on the DIYframing site, which in fact is similar to their usual order process.


The big difference with this system and the usual upload and print is that some one will give you a ring if they need any clarification about cropping, colour range … so you should always get what you asked for. Although I’ve not needed to yet, you can also contact the experts there and advise them of any particular preferences you have. In short, it is a bespoke service.

The Finished ArticleSilk Purse

It actually took 6 working days, start to finish. I ended up with probably the best print ever of one of my images. In theory it is not the best of my photos technically, but the print quality has taken it above what I had considered to be better shots. In fact, I can see I will end up having to reprint some of those. I have become a major fan of printing on fine art paper – something about pigs’ ears and purses springs to mind.


I have also changed my mindset about costs, a little. I no longer see these as “reprints or enlargements”: they are original art prints. I would be happy to invest in somebody else’s limited edition print. Why not do the same for my own work?


The only possible issue I have with the DIYframing site is that, maybe, the notion of quality printing does not come across on the site. Don’t let that put you off! If my experience is anything to judge by, it’s the photographic equivalent of seeing your name in lights.


To have another look at the imaging, print and canvases service offered via DIYframing click: IMAGING


Posted on: 5 Aug 2009@09:55:26, updated on: 5 Aug 2009@09:55:26.