Aurora Printing

Witnessing the Northern Lights is a once in a lifetime experience. Photographing them does not do them justice,but it’s an incredible reminder of my journey. I of course shot  hundreds of images, but after careful editing, I have about a dozen that I really like. They are brilliantly displayed on my monitor, but I want to make Christmas Cards for this year. So off to Red River Paper I go! They have a wonderful selection of paper options for cards, both glossy and matte finishes. While I have traditionally printed on matte papers for my fine art prints, I feel these images will look best on a glossy paper. Glossy papers along with photo black inks do a better job rendering black than a matte paper ink combo. Since these images have a lot of black in them, I’m going gloss.

Since I’m not sure which paper will work best I got Red Rivers Card sampler pack. I would also like to offer these images for sale as prints, so I decided to give the Polar Pearl Metallic a try. Metallic papers give an interesting 3D shimmer to the image on top of the glossy finish. The Aurora Borealis seems like a perfect subject for this!

I quickly got my papers. I had to change out my matte black ink for the photo black on my Epson 7800. Relatively easy process. Newer printers often have both ink sets installed, so you don’t have to go through it; saving you ink and time. However, I discovered my Epson 7800 doesn’t handle the small 7″ x 10″ size of paper for cards, so I tried using my Epson 3520 workhorse, the office printer. The workhorse Epson did a fantastic job of handling the card paper and rendering true colors just using the printers built in color management. Hooray, my goal of printing cards is still alive. I tested all of the glossy card options from Red River and decided on their most popular glossy card paper: Pecos River Gloss. It has a nice weight and great gloss with deep crisp blacks.

Now onto the metallic paper. I’ve wanted to try this paper for a while, but haven’t had a subject worthy of it, so here we go! I downloaded Red Rivers color profile for the paper and installed it. They have great directions to do this. It’s easy to do, you just need to make sure the profile goes in the right folder so Lightroom or Photoshop know where to get it. I’m using Lightroom to print everything by the way. The profile worked great. The prints had deep crisp blacks with accurate colors and brightness. I was quite pleased. I also enjoy the shimmery metallic sheen for the aurora. It brings them to life.

Choosing the right printer, paper and ink set can be daunting. It’s taken me lots of research and years to get to where I am. I started with Epson’s 1280 so many years ago.  So get a good photo printer if you want to do a lot of printing/selling and don’t be afraid to try some of the all in one models for simple jobs like making cards!

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Tales from the Northwest Territories – Bucket List – The Northern Lights

Aurora dances over Prosperous Lake
Aurora dances over Prosperous Lake

Nothing short of a divine experience, the lights play across the sky, dancing and writhing, expanding and contracting, undulating color changes. The stars shine so brightly, the Big Dipper pops from the sky, the Pleiades twinkle like I’ve never seen and the Milky Way flows a river of stars across the sky.

We had 4 wonderfully clear nights to experience the Aurora in Yellowknife, NWT. I look forward to more Aurora experiences next year. My friend Rod Barbee and I plan to run another workshop up there in September 2015. Let me know if you’re interested. You won’t regret it!!!

Not to mention there’s great fall color in the boreal forest, a couple of lovely waterfalls and even some wildlife sightings; we saw wolves, otters, beaver, eagles and fox.

Shooting the aurora is relatively easy, but does require a thorough set up. I highly recommend How to Photograph the Northern Lights . This book explains shooting this phenomenon in plain terms for all levels of the DSLR user.

Aurora swirls above
Aurora swirls above
Milky Way with aurora
Milky Way with aurora
Dancing lights
Dancing lights