Category Archives: Computers & Software

Busy Day

Well, today was a very busy and successful day. I had an early morning, taking my SharePoint certification exam. This was my second time. Last time, I failed with a score of 570-ish (you need a 700 out of 1000 to pass). Today, I got a 957, which means that I missed only one question. I’m very psyched at the turnaround, and I owe a debt of thanks to an iPad app, VCE mobile.

Then I went over to the site of this year’s Artomatic. This will be the biggest Artomatic ever – 390,000 square feet; enough room for 1700+ artists. I found a great wall space to hang my work on the 11th floor, near the elevator, with a view of the Potomac River and National Airport. We’ve got until May 13th now to get our work up on the wall, which is pretty tight time, but I’ll manage somehow.

Epson Scan vs. SilverFast AI 8

Here are the two scans I spoke of in my previous post. The Epson scan looks like it took a bath in tea; the SilverFast scan looks almost ready for printing, just a minor tweak to color balance required.

Next stop, the 3880 printer! I’ve got two papers I want to try in it, the Epson premium glossy and the Brilliant heavy-weight glossy. The Brilliant is a lot cheaper than the Epson paper, so I want to see if it’s a case of you get what you pay for, or is it worth the savings.

Damn Software!

Ok – frustration time rears its ugly head again. Got all my software updated and connected together, and I even went out yesterday and splurged (there goes the rest of the tax refund!) on an Epson 3880 printer. Now that everything is wired up, I tried doing some scans with the new SilverFast AI8. Reflective scans at medium and even high res (1200 dpi) worked great. Scans from negatives worked up to 2400 dpi. The software allows you to input resolutions beyond 2400 dpi – I wanted to see what would happen at 4800 dpi because I was scanning a large negative (5×7 inch) to have it reproduced at very large size (30×42-ish, maybe even bigger). Well…… SilverFast AI8 choked on the request. The scan completed in a reasonable amount of time (maybe 5 minutes- SOOO much faster than on my old computer), but then took 20+ minutes to “process”, at the end of which, it failed. Again at 3200 dpi – same thing. At 2400 dpi, it worked just fine, so I’ll live with that, as A: technically that’s the optical resolution maximum of the scanner (anything higher is software interpolation I believe), and B: it’s still big enough a file (about 600mb) for the custom lab to work with.

I LOVE Kodak Portra 160nc film after this exercise though – it is VERY easy to scan (with decent software – with craptastic software no film scans easily) and it handles chaotically mixed lighting conditions with ease and aplomb. In the shot I was scanning last night, I had rainbow-colored neon, sodium-vapor streetlights, and fluorescent and incandescent interior lighting, at night, all in the same scene. The only thing I had to color correct for was a minor overall tint caused by sloppy processing at the lab I used at the time. Pretty amazing stuff. Now if they’d only charge less than $350 for a 50 sheet box of the stuff, I’d shoot it more often!

I do have to give SilverFast its props – I tried scanning the same negative with the EpsonScan software that came with the scanner – I had to do MAJOR color correction and density correction with the EpsonScan file. The SilverFast scan was almost dead-on on the first try, and I’ll just need to tweak to my taste, along with some dust and hair removal via the Healing brush. Figuring out how to do this myself saves $80-90 per image in scanning fees at the custom lab every time I want to make a print. Now, to figure out which paper surface(s) and brand(s) I want to use. I got a pack of Epson’s top-of-the-line premium glossy, along with a pack of the Calumet heavy-weight glossy paper to compare; the Calumet paper is dramatically cheaper than the Epson.

Damn Computers!

Ok- I admit, I love my Mac. I was chugging along pretty happy with my old iMac (1st gen all-in-one with the 24″ screen, in the white case) until I decided I wanted to do some color prints for my show at Artomatic. I had the scanner, had the software, everything was all set, except that when I tried to do some hi-res scans off of color negative film, even just 120 roll film, my computer was choking (it maxed out at 3GB of RAM). Barely enough to run the OS plus Photoshop and the scan software, let alone do manipulations on a 300MB file just to prep it for printing. So it was time to upgrade the computer.

I saved money on the screen size, going for the 21″ monitor, so I could afford to max out the RAM at 16 GB. The computer came with OS X Lion, which is wonderful in many ways, but gave me no end of heartburn with my software – the version of SilverFast AI I had would only run under Rosetta, which is no longer supported with Lion. Same with my monitor and scanner profiling software. So, an ADDITIONAL $300 later, I’ve got my software upgraded/replaced, and Photoshop CS4 installed and working. I was about to pull out what little remains of my hair when I tried to run the updated SilverFast and it wouldn’t see my scanner – (I’m still not HAPPY about this but…) until I switched from Firewire to USB. Why SilverFast AI 8 can’t use Firewire is beyond me. I was so hoping to be able to free up a USB port!

Restoring files from backup was not quite as seamless as they make it out to be – you have to do all this monkeying around with permissions to folders in order to access the backed-up files from the old machine. There is a way to do it from the top-level folder so you don’t have to go file by file, but it’s still not perfect. Anyway, I’m happy as a clam in mud now, with my new FAST computer. A 2400 ppi scan of a 6x7cm negative used to take 30 minutes – now it’s done in less than 5. I can’t wait to re-scan my 5×7 negatives from my San Francisco trip last year.