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Answering the Call of the Wild

(March 2007) posted on Wed Mar 21, 2007

Prestige Graphics helps produce the Nature's Best Photography exhibit.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Kacey King

As this year’s Nature’s Best competition approached, McCall decided he wanted to utilize a new and different printer for the Smithsonian exhibition. He had seen advertisements for the newly introduced Canon imageProGraf iPF9000 12-color printer, did his research, and made the decision that he would purchase one in time to produce the prints. "I needed at least a 60-inch printer," says McCall, "and gaining 11 colors in the process-you’re using either the matte or the photo black-would give me a wider color gamut to work with," he says.

As McCall proceeded with his diligent research, the non-digital winning images had to be sent out for high-resolution drum scanning. Most of these were 35mm transparencies and were outsourced to ColorCraft ( in Sterling, VA. Only about 10% of the 84 featured images needed to be scanned, McCall estimates; the rest had been submitted digitally. "Photographers are moving quickly to digital photography-for the previous year’s competition, I scanned between 40 or 60 scans."

ColorCraft received the images in a single batch. Using its Screen 8060 professional drum scanner, it digitized the images and returned them to Prestige, which completed proofing for the fall 2006 issue of Nature’s Best magazine. Although McCall had a drum scanner at his previous business, he doesn’t see himself investing in another, preferring instead to outsource scanning from now on. "As more photographers go digital, the need for investing in a drum scanner has really gone down. As a small business, we find it better to outsource the scanning and invest in newer technology."

In order to take the images that were sized for printing in the magazine and size them for wide-format output, McCall implemented a couple of very important steps into the process. First, he took the images and, utilizing onOne Software’s Genuine Fractals, scaled the images up to large-format size. Then, if there was a lot of image noise or fluctuation in image pixels, he turned to the Neat Image filter plug-in for Photoshop, which reduces visible noise and grain in photographic images. "We didn’t begin using Neat until this year-it has helped me out a lot when I blow some of these digital-camera images up to 4 x 6 ft."