Grains and Pixels

I’m in the final stages of preparing my art exhibition for “Light Chasers: An Intersection of Art and Science”. I sent my final images off to the printer, eager to see the images in print, as opposed to on my computer screen.

My print house contacted me, to express concern over the quality of the images I submitted. They identified that the images looked pixel-y when enlarged. My heart sank a bit.

When I prepared the images for printing, I went through a lot of steps to ensure a high-quality image. I scanned the negatives at 800dpi to capture as much data as I could. Remember, the negatives are small to start with – just a couple inches across – so to blow them up to 12x their original size is a challenge. Next, I re-sized the images to about half of their final ultimate size (10×15, for a 20×30 print, for example), and dropped the dpi to 300 (as recommended by my printer). Finally, I did some adjustments to lighting and contrast, sharpening, and clarity to make the image as good as I could.

In doing so, I may have introduced some pixellation (square patterns) that I did not intend. In the end I’m glad that my print house pays attention to such things and kept me from spending a lot of money on prints that look poor. I cancelled the order, and went back to the editing screen.

Now, if you ever worked with film you know that film has a “grain” to it, an artifact of the chemistry involved. Film aficionados look for the grain, and embrace it. In the digital age, grain is essentially a thing of the past, and it has fallen away from our sensibilities about photography. However, pixellation is an artifact of digital photography. So, while I expect there to be graininess in my images, I don’t want pixellation. Here’s a quick illustration.

DolphinBoy pixels
DolphinBoy pixels
DolphinBoy grain
DolphinBoy grain

So, fingers crossed that I kept the grain but eliminated the pixellation.

I install my show at the end of July, and have an opening reception scheduled for Friday, August 9, from 6-8pm. The exhibition and reception will be held in the Turret Gallery, 3rd floor of the Castle Community, 121 North Broadway Ave, Rochester, MN. The reception is free and open to the public. Visitors may see the exhibit throughout the month of August, daily from 10a-6p, with the exception of Sundays, 10a-4pm.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.

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