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Railfan Technology > Aluminum-backed photo prints


Date: 11/14/18 18:10
Aluminum-backed photo prints
Author: E25

I spent part of last Sunday afternoon at the annual Fountain Hills Arts Festival looking over some of the displays, which included several offerings of prints by photographers.

I was attracted to a display of "nature" photography which caught my attention as being particularly "vibrant" in definition and color... sort of like "HDR" in print form.

I stopped to chat with the photographer about his photos and was informed that his prints were made on aluminum panels.  I wasn't aware of that technology (... probably a tacit admission that I am way behind in keeping up with all of the latest photographic techniques, etc.), but I was really impressed with the finished product.

If you Google "aluminum photo prints" you will discover a lot of information and vendors names.  (Even Costco!  LOL)

An outfit named "Image Wizards" claims to be the inventor of printing on metal and describes its process as follows:

"What is a metal print? A metal print takes your digital image, prints it on a special paper, with special sublimation inks. We take that image and under the right combination of heat, time and pressure, we sublimate—that means we turn the inks into a vapor before they turn into a liquid—and the molecules go inside a specially coated aluminum surface. It is part art and science. We make more than metal prints---we make Aluminarte."

According to the photographers that I spoke with, there is quite a range in image quality between the various vendors of this medium and obtaining good results requires a careful study to determine which ones have developed the best techniques.  Apparently, it is another "you get what you pay for" situation.

Are any of you acquainted with this printing medium?  If so, what are your impressions?
 

Greg Stadter
Phoenix, AZ



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/18 20:46 by E25.



Date: 11/14/18 18:52
Re: Aluminum-backed photo prints
Author: wabash2800

Greg:

That almost sounds like a throwback to very early photography?

Victor A. Baird
http://www.erstwhilepublications.com



Date: 11/15/18 17:36
Re: Aluminum-backed photo prints
Author: colehour

I know it's not the same thing, but the plates used in offset printing can be made of aluminum when they are intended for a long press run. I wonder if you could get some nice photos that way, atlthough they would only be B&W.



Date: 12/08/18 08:36
Re: Aluminum-backed photo prints
Author: Heymon

Greg,

I have printed a couple of shots on metal.  These were night shots of UP trains and it was 4-5 years ago. While they looked good on my computer, the prints did not come out so good.  I don't think this was the fault of the metal, but it could have been the print shop (low end of the budget).  I think also the resolution of the image I sent to print was not high enough, which was perhaps the biggest factor.  I want to try it again, but this time with a better image and better printer and see how it comes out.  If you try it, use the highest resolution you can and choose a printer with good reviews.  It was fairly new when I tried it and my personal budget for experimenting like that was lower then too, but I am confident it would work better these days.  Good luck.  They do look really nice when done properly.

Andre



Date: 12/08/18 11:28
Re: Aluminum-backed photo prints
Author: bioyans

Heymon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Greg,
>
> I have printed a couple of shots on metal.  These
> were night shots of UP trains and it was 4-5 years
> ago. While they looked good on my computer, the
> prints did not come out so good.  I don't think
> this was the fault of the metal, but it could have
> been the print shop (low end of the budget).  I
> think also the resolution of the image I sent to
> print was not high enough, which was perhaps the
> biggest factor.  I want to try it again, but this
> time with a better image and better printer and
> see how it comes out.  If you try it, use the
> highest resolution you can and choose a printer
> with good reviews.  It was fairly new when I
> tried it and my personal budget for experimenting
> like that was lower then too, but I am confident
> it would work better these days.  Good luck. 
> They do look really nice when done properly.

Even with a ton of work, getting a large print to appear exactly like it does on a computer is not easy.  A monitor is back illuminated, versus the reflected illumination of a print.  The two most important factors are 1). Having a large enough file to give the minimally acceptable DPI (Dots Per Inch) on the print.  For the average viewing distance, anything less than 150 DPI (or so) will see a marked deterioration of the final image.  2).  Calibrate your monitor using a calibration tool (such as Datacolor's Spyder series).  Having your monitor brightness set properly to the ambient light levels in your workspace is equally important as having the color profile correct.  Most of the calibration tools offer this step.  Way too many people have their monitors set too bright, and it throws off their image when they try to print.  I started using a BenQ monitor specifically designed for Color Management (displays in either sRGB and Adobe RGB with one click), calibrated with a Spyder 5 Pro and BenQ's "Palette Master" software.  It is now easy for me to process and edit photos that match between monitor, cellphone, and print.  Used it to order a large (16 x 24) face mounted acrylic print on metallic paper through Bay Photo's ROES system.  The original, taken by my girlfriend from a helicopter along Kauai's Napali coast, was a cropped 18 megapixel RAW file that was edited in Lightroom and converted to a TIF format.  It was a bit pricey (nearly $200), but the final result was spectacular. 
 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/08/18 11:30 by bioyans.




Date: 12/08/18 16:41
Re: Aluminum-backed photo prints
Author: wjpyper

colehour Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I know it's not the same thing, but the plates
> used in offset printing can be made of aluminum
> when they are intended for a long press run. I
> wonder if you could get some nice photos that way,
> atlthough they would only be B&W.

No. Different process.
Bill Pyper
Retired printer.
 



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