Product Reviews » Photo to Canvas
I have a new book coming out this fall - Adirondack Style - to be released by Rizzoli as a deluxe hardcover, coffee-table book. I have always preferred to have a major photo exhibition and book-signing event to launch a project like this. And the way I like it best is to have the gallery be absolutely jammed - I want my reception to be THE place to be that night. If there is room to get in and look at the photos, then I consider it a failure.
I like to have a range of print sizes, from 8”x8” up to 16”x20”. Usually I print them on a fine-art matte paper on my Epson archival inkjet printer. I like the way the images do not look photographic, so much as 'print-like.' But the real headache comes with the framing. To do it right - acid free, hand-cut mat, tasteful wooden or metal frames, the proper glass and hanging equipment - all becomes more expensive and time consuming than the actual print, not to mention the work involved.
So, for this new book I wanted to experiment with the concept of printing on canvas. I did some research and found three labs of interest, one of which was Canvas on Demand. I had previewed their material at a convention in NYC months ago and they offered a special discounted trial print for professionals. It seems most of the work they do is aimed toward wedding and portrait photography - something I do not do much of.
The first step is to register as a pro on the website. After review of your submitted information, if you are accepted, you get a significant credit to try a roughly 16”x20” image and basically all you do is pay for shipping. I registered on May 21 and was accepted as a working pro the next day.
I picked one of my favorite images in the book, one that I thought would hold up to 24”x36” enlargement. I have not printed anything that big since I worked in a photo lab in San Francisco 30 years ago.
I prepared a 24”x36” TIFF file in Adobe Photoshop, logged into my account and shopped around on the site to make my selections. First, I chose the size. Next, I chose the depth of the frame wrap, in this case I chose 1.5”. I had tested out smaller prints with just a ¾” wrap, but at the suggestion of the customer service representative I settled on the deeper 1.5” wrap for this size image. Next, I had to consider the edge treatment. One lab I had tested made a mirror image of the end of the frame and used this to wrap around the edge. This style could work for my test. A second lab used the edges of the image to wrap around, but this creates some loss of the image and I would have lost 1.5” all around. I did not want to lose the edges of this particular image as there is a small section of tree in the upper left-hand corner that gives a sense of scale and provides the eye with a perfect place to enter the frame. Canvas on Demand had an option that solved the dilemma - a bleed of the image with a black-edge wraparound - so I could have the entire image viewable, lose no part of it, but have a clean look all around the sides of the canvas. This was my selection.
Lastly, I selected regular FedEx Ground shipping. I uploaded the image, which went pretty easily, entered my credit card info and held my breath. This order was submitted May 23.
I got a brief notification from the Canvas on Demand tech department the next day, stating that they thought the horizon was a little off and asking if wanted them to correct it. They did - at no change I would add. That was the only question from them, and they contacted me to clarify, which I appreciated.
About 4 days later, on May 27, I received an email notification that the print was completed and had shipped the previous day. I followed the FedEx tracking number and was surprised that it arrived the next day, May 28. It was left at my front door, required no signature, and it arrived exactly when they said it would. FedEx managed to make a few dings in the exterior carton, so I was nervous about damage.
|The Adirondack lake image I submitted to Canvas on Demand. I was very pleased with how easy the process was and how the canvas turned out.|
The Final Product
The canvas was well-wrapped, the print in a double layer of light foam bags, centered in firm cardboard corners and then well-placed in a sturdy exterior cardboard box. With great anticipation, I carefully opened the box and was completely blown away! The print had wonderful contrast, and more color subtleties that I could ever see on screen in my TIFF. It is a shot of an Adirondack lake with heavy sky cover and reflections. There is a wonderful, warm, purplish tint to the dark storm clouds and reflections. The highlights are clean, shadows deep but with detail. There was absolutely no other expectation or way that I could be happier with my print, except if it was free (in this case it was provided free to me as a reviewable product.) Score an A+ for Canvas on Demand. I heartily recommend them based on my experience.
Whenever I am asked to do something online, I get nervous. I like speaking with people and to be able to ask questions that you sometimes cannot get answered by email or text. But, I rolled the dice on this one, and the print came in perfect. One of the other labs I tested had the framing a little off and colors not so strong.
The following link will get you there directly: Canvas On Demand
They have many special options, packages, frames, special deals for studios, regular offers sent by email with discounts, etc. Check them out and let me know how your experience goes.
Follow the light…f-stop
Editors Note: Since this article began, I have had a chance to print some canvas products with another printer. With this new printer, I noticed a substantial decrease in the quality of both the actual canvas itself, as well as color control. Clearly, Canvas on Demand's work is far superior. I am glad I tried them out and have learned a bit more about the process. Again, high marks to Canvas on Demand!