2010 Audience Picks

Posted by on October 21, 2010 at 10:00 am.

To supplement the judges’ picks for the official winners of the 2010 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon we also asked the attendees of Raw Talent 2010 to fill out a ballot aptly called “You Be The Judge” and pick their own favourites. The response was massive and we have meticulously counted all the ballots to bring you the audience favourites for 2010. Did the audience agree with the judges? See for yourself:

Audience Pick for Best Series: #43 Bob Lai

Audience Pick for Best Series Runner-Up: #34 Kenny Louie

Audience Pick for Best Photo:
#02 Robert Fougere for Theme #2 (The High Road)

Audience Pick for Best Photo Runner-Up:
#32 Aaron MacFarlane for Theme #2 (The High Road)

Audience Pick for Individual Themes:

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Theme 01 (My Entry Number): #02 Robert Fougere

Theme 02 (The High Road): #32 Aaron MacFarlane

Theme 03 (Torn Apart): #38 Cherry Vega

Theme 04 (Expendables): #20 Ian Thomson

Theme 05 (Ultimate): *TIE* between #34 Kenny Louie & #47 Kemp Edmonds

Theme 06 (Secret World): #31 Leah Gregg

Theme 07 (Persistence): *TIE* between #14 Zachary Wong, #20 Ian Thomson, and #56 Matthew Smillie

Theme 08 (Dog Eat Dog): #58 David Liao

Theme 09 (Vague): #52 Martin Chung

Theme 10 (Resort): #23 Ben Lewis

Theme 11 (Easy as Pie): #10 Tyler Branston

Theme 12 (Unfunny): #53 Lisa King

2010 Winning Photos

Posted by on October 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm.

For 2010 we had 60 participants whereof 57 returned a film at the end of the day and 56 rolls were printable. From these 670+ photos our judges were asked to pick a winner and a runner-up for Best Series and Best Photo, and also pick one winner for each of the 12 themes. Without further ado, here are the winning photos.

Best Series: #34 Kenny Louie

Best Series Runner-Up: #02 Robert Fougere

Best Photo:
#02 Robert Fougere for Theme #02 (The High Road)

Best Photo Runner-Up:
#40 Matthew Sinclair for Theme #06 (Secret World)

Individual Theme Winners

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Theme 01 (My Entry Number): #02 Robert Fougere

Theme 02 (The High Road): #02 Robert Fougere

Theme 03 (Torn Apart): #34 Kenny Louie

Theme 04 (Expendables): #12 Melanie Shave

Theme 05 (Ultimate): #06 Masumi Kikuchi

Theme 06 (Secret World): #40 Matthew Sinclair

Theme 07 (Persistence):  #56 Matthew Smillie

Theme 08 (Dog Eat Dog): #02 Robert Fougere

Theme 09 (Vague): #52 Martin Chung

Theme 10 (Resort): #23 Ben Lewis

Theme 11 (Easy as Pie): #07 Dave Fell

Theme 12 (Unfunny): #53 Lisa King

Raw Talent 2010 – The Speech

Posted by on October 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm.

On September 12th 2010, a typically rainy Vancouver Sunday, 60 photographers rolled themselves out of bed way too early in the morning and made their way to Blenz Coffee in Yaletown. With them they brought 35mm cameras and other equipment resurrected from a state of prolonged disuse. And one of them even brought huge crates full of LEGO.

They were each handed a roll of 12 exposure 400ISO film provided by London Drugs and as they carefully loaded their cameras they waited impatiently for the first theme.

At 8am sharp the first theme, My Entry Number, was released to a mix of groans, laughs and “Whaaat??!?”s and the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon was officially in progress. Over the next 12 hours the photographers would return to receive 11 more themes, each of which had to be interpreted and captured on the film, in order, before the film was returned for processing no later than 8pm.

What you see here today is a slice of time, a document of Vancouver as it was on one particular day a month ago. And not only how Vancouver – the city – appeared, but how its people at that particular time thought. A photograph is as much a representation of the person taking the picture as it is of the subject. It tells a story not only of what happened in front of the camera, but also behind it. No wonder even though the themes are the same, the end results are so dramatically different.

Now an event like this does not happen without some serious help from the community. And we have been lucky enough to get the support of some great companies that have made this all possible.

First off, as I mentioned, all the film, development, scans and prints were provided by London Drugs. Considering how hard it is to find film these days, and our mandate to keep entry fees as low as possible, this contribution is of pivotal importance to 12×12.

Opus Framing and Art Supplies provided not only all the boards on which the photos hang but also four amazing (and huge) canvas prints for our winners which will be revealed shortly.

As I said, Blenz Coffee in Yaletown let us invade their premises for an entire day during the actual event and they will also be showcasing the winning photos on their point-of-sale screens throughout the lower mainland.

This place we are in right now is the Vancouver Photo Workshops. Again they not only let us invade their space but also were a tremendous help in actually setting up this exhibit. In particular I’d like to single out Wayne and Dave who climbed scaffolding and ran wire for each of the boards for hours on end yesterday.

You may have spotted one of our two collectible 12×12 buttons around here today. They were created by a very cool company called Six Cent Press that is a great supporter of local events.

As for prizes the winners will walk away with some great stuff:

From Pearson Publishing we have a huge pile of great photo books.

From Beau Photo the main winners will get a gift card.

From Joby the winners get a Gorillapod Focus with the new Ballhead X attachments and we also gave away 6 Gorillapod Originals during the marathon.

The winning photos will be displayed in the Vancouver Lookout in the coming weeks to be gazed at by tourists and Vancouverites alike.

During the marathon itself we gave away door prizes from Akash Sablok of Sablok & Sablok Notaries Public and Stephen Fung from Futurelooks.com.

Let’s not forget photographer-moonlighting-as-DJ Jeremy Lim in the back of the room who is spinning the decks and bringing some groove to this evening.

Our media sponsor Vancouver Is Awesome ensured that the message got out and we got a long list of new photographers this year.

And finally event production, web services and financial backing was provided by Pink & Yellow Media (and yes, that’s Angela and myself).

Speaking of, I’d like to introduce you to the planning committee for this year’s event. It consists of Angela and Anny Chih, John Biehler, Benjamin Luk and Lesley Tetlow Stefanski who is in Australia at the moment and sends her appologies for not being here, and of course me. Now I want you to give an extra round of applause to Angela – the organizational mastermind behind this event. If it wasn’t for her organizational skills and unwavering attention to detail we would not be here today, so she deserves a lot of credit for this.

There are a couple more people I need to single out before we go upstairs. After the first 12×12 in 2009 one of the participants came up to us and asked if we wanted him to build a phone app for the event. Well, we could hardly say no to that and for this year’s event we actually had a custom 12×12 app for both Android and the iPhone. That person is Phil Wu, marathoner number 17. And to go with his app another marathoner, number 34 – Kenny Louie, created the awesome Tweet map we had running during the event which showed where people were and what they were tweeting. And like I mentioned our friend Chris Arnold all the way over in the UK developed the Live Labs Pivot collection for us to give people the ability to quickly sort through all the photos and more importantly provide a non-brain-frying method for our judges to do their job.

Speaking of judges, we had an esteemed panel of opinionated people this year. They were Erin Cebula, TV celebrity and long-time friend, Adam & Kev who though they insisted on voting as one ended up arguing like an old married couple, our very own John Biehler who represented the planning committee and last but not least VPW director Marc Koegel.

The judges deliberated for hours and the final results are on display upstairs.

Raw Talent Timelapse, part II – Setup and Show

Posted by on October 19, 2010 at 6:43 pm.

To give you a behind-the-scenes look at the show we let a timelapse camera run during the 10 hour setup for Raw Talent 2010. For good measure we left the camera to run during the exhibit itself as well. What you see here is the result.

Raw Talent 2010 – Timelapse

Posted by on October 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm.

By John Biehler

A Collector of Ghosts

Posted by on October 15, 2010 at 8:48 am.

Guest post by Robert Fougere, 2010 Marathoner #02. Visit Raw Talent 2010: The 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon Exhibit THIS Saturday October 16th from 6 – 10pm  and check out his work!

I had been shooting my own photos and making my own black and white prints for a year or two when I started to look through the bins of found photos at flea markets as sources of inspiration. Let me tell you, I have spent many happy useful hours! But, a whole new world opened up to me when a friend that runs a second-hand shop on Main St gifted me a box of old negatives! Since then, I’ve been scouring junk shops, garage sales and even e-bay for interesting and wonderful vintage photo negatives. Not only that, but I’ve been putting them to good use making prints, sometimes real big ones from the best of ’em.

My collection has grown to include such fantastic negatives including: a snapshot of a young Queen Elizabeth, a portrait of Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, some amazing photos from the archives of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, and even a photo of the premier supermodel, “Twiggy.” Not only that, but my collection also includes photos of unknown models/housewives as shot by famous photographers Serge Jaques and Elmer Batters.

I never considered myself a history buff, but to hold in ones hand such magnificent and beautiful and interesting pieces of history, shot as it happens, has on more than one occasion sent me packing to the library to see what other information I can discover regarding a certain piece of photographic history.

Shoot film my friends, even if for no other reason than your photos will last a lot longer than a digital file!

A group exhibit that includes a few of my found photos opens tonight:

An Exhibition of Appropriated, Altered, and Re-Photographed Found Images
Opening night: Friday October 15th, 2010 at 8:00 PM
Lion’s Den
79 East Pender St, Vancouver
$5 at the door

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For more information about Robert, visit his site at www.thesuitcasegallery.com or Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Suitcase-Gallery

Thank you Robert, for sharing your experience with us. For you readers out there, if you’ve got a story to share about your adventures in photography (and film in particular), drop us a line!

Learning for the Learned – from Pearson

Posted by on October 14, 2010 at 11:00 am.

Like last year, our good friends at Pearson Technology Group (follow them on Twitter @ptgcanada) have once again shipped us a box of photo books for our winners. For those who don’t know, Pearson is the mothership that drives well known educational book series like the Sams (Teach Yourself) and QUE to name a couple. But what many people don’t know is that they also have a huge lineup of books and other educational materials for creative professionals, photographers included.

The books will be handed out to the winners at Raw Talent 2010. But even if you don’t win one you should take the time to check them out – they are pretty damn good reading:

From Still to Motion: A Photographer’s Guide to Creating Video with Your DSLR

by James Ball, Robbie Carman, Matt Gottshalk and Richard Harrington

With the arrival of high-definition video-enabled DSLR cameras, photographers are faced with an opportunity for creativity and a competitive edge in their field unlike anything they’ve experienced before. Add to that the expanding demands from a video-hungry audience and it’s no longer a matter of if you are going to add video to your repertoire of skills, it’s when.

Here to guide you in a thorough exploration of the video-making process — from preproduction to post — and to ease your transition from still to motion are four veterans who speak the language of both photography and video fluently. With their clear, instructive approach, they quickly get you up to speed on everything from picking your gear, to properly lighting for motion, to using professional-level audio, color correction, and editing techniques, to media management and outputting, and much more. Here are just a few highlights from this richly illustrated, completely interactive book and DVD:

  • Explores the entire spectrum of video for DSLR camera owners, with recommendations on gear, planning, lighting, lenses, audio, editing, color correcting, exporting, media management, and more.
  • Covers a wide variety of shooting styles, including indoor, outdoor, studio, portrait, event, and available light.
  • Addresses technical challenges associated with DSLR video, such as camera movement, multiple camera coverage, low-light videography, and synchronized sound.
  • Explores additional creative techniques such as stop motion and timelapse photography in depth.
  • Includes a real-world example of a music video and promo package throughout the book to demonstrate concepts in action, with additional profiles of photography experts in nature, sports, commercial, and weddings and events.

The accompanying DVD contains over 6 hours of video training that delves deeper into each topic, as well as high-definition footage, hands-on project  files, and templates to experiment with and follow along.

Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

by David duChemin

What if your image could only communicate one thing: one major idea, overarching theme, or driving emotion? If you identified this, you’d discover your vision for that image—the internal, invisible guiding principle that directs both how you capture the image and how you develop it in the digital darkroom.

Without vision, you likely find yourself flailing both behind the camera and in front of the computer—indiscriminately shooting and arbitrarily moving sliders in hopes of stumbling upon something great every once in a while. With vision, you bring direction and intention to both the creation and development of all your images.

Vision & Voice: Refining Your Vision in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is about identifying your vision and using Lightroom’s Develop module to give voice—that outward expression—to your vision. Photographer David duChemin begins with the fundamentals of a vision-driven workflow, where he discusses everything from vision and style, to the importance of mood and color, to the crucial role of histograms and of getting the best possible digital negative to work with. After demonstrating how the Develop module’s tools affect the aesthetics of your image, duChemin then offers a straightforward approach to developing your images in accordance with your own personal vision: identify your intention, minimize the distractions, maximize the mood, and draw the viewer’s eye—all while leaving room for play and serendipity. Finally, duChemin applies this approach to 20 of his photographs as he takes you into his own digital darkroom and, beginning with the original RAW file, works step by step through the development of the final image.

Visual Poetry: A Creative Guide for Making Engaging Digital Photographs

by Chris Orwig

A great photograph has the potential to transcend verbal and written language. But how do you create these photographs? It’s not the how that’s important, but the who and the what. Who you are as a person has a direct impact on what you capture as a photographer.

Whether you are an amateur or professional, architect or acupuncturist, physician or photographer, this guide provides inspiration, simple techniques, and assignments to boost your creative process and improve your digital images using natural light without additional gear.

Chris Orwig’s insights—to reduce and simplify, participate rather than critique, and capture a story—have made him an immensely popular workshop speaker and faculty member at the prestigious Brooks Institute. His engaging stories presented as lessons follow his classroom approach and highlight what students say is his contagious passion for life.

Captured by the Light: The Essential Guide to Creating Extraordinary Wedding Photography

by David Ziser


World-renowned wedding photographer, and one of the most widely acclaimed instructors in the industry today, David Ziser brings his no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point teaching style to a book that totally rewrites the rules for how wedding photography is taught.

This groundbreaking new book is the first of its kind to focus on the exact areas that wedding photographers have been begging a top pro like David to cover, including how to create professional quality light and beautiful images in every situation, how to compose wedding images that sell, and how to create amazing images in the limited time and at the fast pace of a wedding.

But David doesn’t just stop there. He covers every aspect of what today’s brides and wedding couples want from a wedding photographer, including poses that work every time and can’t-miss lighting setups you can use again and again, and everything is laid out in a brilliant step-by-step method that makes learning these techniques so easy, you’ll be able to pull off these same looks yourself (without spending thousands on expensive equipment). Plus, the book is packed with David’s tricks of the trade that he’s picked up in a career shooting all over the world.

The Photoshop CS3/CS4 Wow! Book

by Linnea Dayton and Cristen Gillespie

Ever since Photoshop version 2.5, The Photoshop Wow! Book has enlightened and inspired graphic designers, illustrators, and photographers around the globe. This newest edition delivers the familiar award-winning mix of explanations and step-by-step tutorials for creating both commercial and fine-art images, with a DVD-ROM full of tutorial files and other goodies. Tips and beautiful galleries distinguish this book as the most inspiring Photoshop resource around. Designed for easy reference, The Photoshop CS3/CS4 Wow! Book includes short features in which professional photographers and designers let you in on their creative secrets for quick solutions. You’ll learn the most innovative techniques for creating and enhancing images, graphics, and type.

  • Use these techniques with Photoshop CS3 and CS4; most fundamental techniques also work with Photoshop CS5
  • Use the new and improved features in Photoshop CS3 and CS4, including Smart Filters, the Quick Selection tool, the new Black & White and Vibrance adjustments, the Refine Edge command, the Clone Source panel, the Adjustments and Masks panels, and video, animation, 3D, and Analysis features in Photoshop Extended, as well as improvements to Bridge and Camera Raw
  • Build your skill with familiar Photoshop features such as blend modes, Adjustment layers, channels, filters, Actions, and Layer Styles
  • Focus attention on the subject of a photo, retouch a portrait, tint an image, or convert a color image to black-and-white
  • Bring out your inner artist with Photoshop’s sophisticated brushes and vector-drawing tools
  • Create dazzling special effects for type and graphics
  • Keep your creations organized with layers, groups, Smart Objects, and layer comps

The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes

by Joe McNally

After spending more than thirty years behind the lens—working for National Geographic, Time, Life, and Sports Illustrated—Joe McNally knows about light. He knows how to talk about it, shape it, color it, control it, and direct it. Most importantly, he knows how to create it…using small hot shoe flashes.

In The Hot Shoe Diaries, Joe brings you behind the scenes to candidly share his lighting solutions for a ton of great images. Using Nikon Speedlights, Joe lets you in on his uncensored thought process—often funny, sometimes serious, always fascinating—to demonstrate how he makes his pictures with these small flashes. Whether he’s photographing a gymnast on the Great Wall, an alligator in a swamp, or a fire truck careening through Times Square, Joe uses these flashes to create great light that makes his pictures sing.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book

by Adobe Creative Team

Creative professionals seeking the fastest, easiest, most comprehensive way to learn Adobe Photoshop CS5 choose Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book from the Adobe Creative Team at Adobe Press. The 14 project-based lessons in this book show readers step-by-step the key techniques for working in Photoshop CS5.

In addition to learning the key elements of the Photoshop interface, this completely revised CS5 edition shows readers how to edit images with precise selection control, correct a wide range of lens-based errors, interactively transform their images with the new Puppet Warp tool, and easily remove or replace image elements with the new Content-Aware Fill mode. The book also covers new powerful painting effects to artistically enhance images and shows how to combine multiple exposures into a single HDR image.

For the first time, the companion DVD will feature, in addition to the lesson files, 2 hours of free video tutorials from Learn Adobe Photoshop CS5 by Video by Adobe Press and video2brain, a great added value!

“The Classroom in a Book series is by far the best training material on the market. Everything you need to master the software is included: clear explanations of each lesson, step-by-step instructions, and the project files for the students.” —Barbara Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor, Rocky Mountain Training

Classroom in a Book®, the best-selling series of hands-on software training workbooks, helps you learn the features of Adobe software quickly and easily. Classroom in a Book offers what no other book or training program does—an official training series from Adobe Systems Incorporated, developed with the support of Adobe product experts.

Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS5

by Jeff Schewe and Bruce Fraser

Today serious photographers shoot raw images only. Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop was the first book devoted exclusively to the topic, explaining the advantages and challenges of using Adobe Camera Raw to produce magnificent images. Real World Camera Raw in Adobe Photoshop CS5 keeps pace with new directions in digital photography and raw image processing. Jeff Schewe, a contributor to the development of Adobe Camera Raw from its beginnings, updates Bruce Fraser’s bestselling book with insider knowledge of how new features let photographers optimize and convert images for the best results in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Hands-on techniques show readers how to expose and shoot for raw image capture as well as use features such as the Adjustment Brush and the Graduated Filter and the new and improved Noise Reduction, Perspective Crop, and automatic Lens Correction. Readers will also learn how to use the latest version of Adobe Bridge to manage the thousands of images–and gigabytes of data–that result from shooting in raw.

This edition:

  • Builds on the latest version of Camera Raw to extend control over your digital camera’s raw file format to produce the best quality images.
  • Shows you how to take advantage of new features in Adobe Bridge CS5 to select, sort, annotate, and edit thousands of raw images quickly and efficiently.
  • Guides you in developing an efficient raw workflow incorporating Adobe Photoshop CS5, Camera Raw 6, and Bridge CS5

About Pearson

Pearson Technology Group Canada (PTGC) is the premier distributor of books and training materials for today’s business and IT professional. PTGC represents the publishing industry’s leading imprints for authoritative and cutting edge technical and professional information. Our imprints include: Financial Times Press,Addison-Wesley, Prentice-Hall Professional, Cisco Press, Peachpit Press, Que Publishing, and Sams Publishing. In addition PTGC has corporate alliances with Cisco Systems, Adobe Systems, Sun, and IBM.

PTGC is a division of Pearson Education Canada, one of the global education publishing business of Pearson plc., the international media group.

You can get more information about Pearson and their extensive lineup of educational products (including Morten’s two books) check out their Canadian website. You can also follow them on Twitter @ptgcanada for the latest updates. Remember to check out their huge selection of books, DVDs and other learning materials for creative professionals by visiting PeachPit.com.

We are thrilled to have Pearson on board as a sponsor and hugely jealous of the winners who get to walk away with these fantastic books.

Gorillapod Twitter Contest Winners Announced!

Posted by on October 13, 2010 at 11:00 am.

You may remember we ran a Twitter contest in the weeks leading up to the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon in collaboration with Joby, creators of the very cool and versatile Gorillapods. Well, the idea was to give away five Gorillapod Originals to five lucky people who followed @jobyinc and @12x12yvr and retweeted a simple message. But due to some logistical messups and the intricate world of international shipping we didn’t actually have the Gorillapods in house on September 12th. Not good. But fortunately the pods were eventually tracked down and they arrived intact about a week later.

So, without further ado, and to prevent any further unforeseen weird shipping catastrophes, we are happy to announce the winners of the Joby / 12×12 Gorillapod Twitter Contest:

Walking away with their very own brightly coloured Gorillapod Original are, in the order they were drawn:

But wait! The keen observer will surely have noticed that in the photos above there are six pods, not five. What gives?

Joby sponsored us with a total of eight Gorillapods: Two Gorillapod Focuses with the new Ballhead X attachments and six Gorillapod Originals, one in each colour. We are giving the Focuses to the Best Series and Best Photo winners and five of the Originals to the five Twitter contest winners. The last Original will be a giveaway at Raw Talent 2010. How? Well, you’ll have to come to find out!

2010 Judges

Posted by on October 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm.

Judge Erin Cebula, ET Canada

Call it destiny and hard work or passion with a purpose, but either way, what started as a high school video assignment has turned into a dynamic and exciting career on the little big screen for Erin Cebula.

In 2000, Erin became Global BC’s first ever Entertainment reporter. This led to on-camera gigs with the Canucks’ Pay-Per-View broadcast, Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival and Tourism Vancouver. A couple of short years later, Erin took the helm at Urban Rush and garnered a Leo nod for “Best Host.” When Entertainment Tonight Canada launched in 2005, Erin was a natural fit and she continues to be their go-to reporter on the West Coast. Catch her there, or on HGTV’s Makeover Wish, where she rewards everyday heroes with the gift of a lifetime.


Judge Marc Koegel, VPW Director

Marc Koegel is a local fine art photographer, educator and writer. His black and white landscapes, nudes and architecture photographs have been widely exhibited in Vancouver and abroad.

Born in Germany, Marc has been seriously involved with photography ever since he was given his father’s camera and darkroom setup at the age of 12. He has worked and studied with many internationally acclaimed photographers, including Ralph Gibson, David Hume Kennerly and Jon Cone from Cone Editions Press. Among Marc’s keen interests are the creative and transitional techniques used to marry traditional darkroom with the latest digital processes.


Judges Adam Schelle and Kevin Holloway, Adam and Kev Photography

“Nobody’s perfect. Least of all us. Fifteen years experience have taught us that much. That, and that pictures of perfect looking people really aren’t that interesting. We work with corporate and commercial clients to show what makes them different. Because they’re not perfect. But they are different. And that’s what makes them interesting.

We can usually be found at our studio on Granville Street – planning, testing, shooting, and occasionally bickering over who makes the next pot of coffee.”


Judge John Biehler, 12x12

John is a passionate photographer and film school grad that likes to dabble in all kinds of photographic technology. He’s conflicted by the fact that if he wasn’t one of the organizers/judges of the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon, he’d definitely be a participant.


John’s Flickr stream of 12×12 photos:

John’s awesome time-lapse videos:
12×12 Raw Talent 2009
12×12 2010 Vancouver Photo Marathon

Great Photos Deserve Canvas

Posted by on October 4, 2010 at 9:00 am.

Artwork by Suzanne Kay

When it comes to photography, there is something to be said for size. Seeing a great photo enlarged to fill your field of vision does something to your perception of the image portrayed. There are few mediums more fit for displaying photographic art than real art canvas. The texture created by tightly woven fibres melding with pigments gives stills an incomparable organic undertone.

Opus Art & Design Media – the newest location for Opus Framing and Art Supplies in Downtown Vancouver – takes canvas printing very seriously. The store caters to professional artists and galleries in addition to amateurs and enthusiasts and prides itself in offering only the best gallery quality Giclée prints. For the second year in a row, Opus is providing 24” x 36” stretched canvas prints for our top winners because great photos deserve canvas. Here is Suzanne Kay on why the best art supply store in Vancouver is such a strong supporter of 12×12.

We introduced you to Opus Framing & Art Supplies and their canvas printing services in advance of Raw Talent 2009 but Opus doesn’t just offer printing, canvas stretching and framing services. They also sell a variety of coatings to further enhance the appearance of Giclée prints. Canvas printers are in reality extremely high quality inkjet printers that can render digital images onto all sorts of media including archival canvas. The nature of inkjet printing ink is that it comes out as a matte coat. As such, dark colours and blacks are not as dark as they can be because matte surfaces tend to reflect a certain amount of light. Depending on the original medium the image was created in and the intended effect, this can be both a plus and a minus. In many cases the matte effect is what is desired. But in others, like that of photos, the artist may want a different finish, either glossy or even with some texture to it. The same goes for painters who are printing reproductions and mixed-media artists who use the Giclée prints as a base for further artistic expression.

Different Giclée Print Coatings

For these artists, the Giclée print is but the first step of the process. Upon receiving a stretched canvas print, they will go on to apply one of the many available post-print coatings that provide either a base for further work or a permanent final coat for the image that brings out the colours or adds texture where none was before. These coats, applied by hand with a brush, range from basic matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss varnishes, to gel coats that are either self-levelling or moldable. The coats are applied by the print owner and opens a world of new posibilities for its final appearance. For photos, a simple semi-gloss or high-gloss varnish or a self-levelling gel will bring out the depth of dark tones and give the print a shine not unlike that of an acrylic painting. For painters and photographers with an artistic flare, the acrylic gel coats and adhesive coats open the door for adding brush stroke effects and even new coats of paint or other artistic media.

Varnish and Top-Coat Options for Digital Prints

Golden Archival Spray Varnish: This comes in gloss, satin and matter finishes and has the addition of a UV block. Apply 6 to 8 thin coats, allowing each layer to dry for at least ½ hour in between. This creates a very smooth, even surface which will protect your piece from scratching and environmental dirt and acidity. This varnish is a final coat and should not be painted on top of. Easy to use, but takes several hours to complete.

Liquitex Gloss Varnish and Medium: This is a brush-on varnish that goes on easily to provide a gloss finish to your piece. Brush on the first layer with a soft synthetic brush and let it completely dry. Brush on the second layer in the opposite direction (i.e. if you first coat went on across the width of the piece, the second coat should be brushed on the length of the piece). More layers can be applied if desired, but isn’t necessary. You can paint on top of this medium with excellent adhesion. Easy to use and doesn’t take too long.

Golden Digital Topcoat: This is a brush-on topcoat that comes in Gloss and Semi- gloss and has the addition of a UV block. Brush on the first layer with a soft synthetic brush and let it completely dry. Brush on the second layer in the opposite direction. More layers can be applied if desired, but isn’t necessary. You can paint on top of this medium with excellent adhesion. Easy to use and doesn’t take too long.

Golden Self-levelling Gel: This is a medium that can be poured on, or brushed on your piece. It is flexible, has a high shine, is very smooth and glass-like with a similar appearance to a resin coat. You can paint on top of this medium with excellent adhesion. Easy to use and doesn’t take too long. Ideally, a final varnish coat should be used to increase longevity of the piece, but is not completely necessary.

Acrylic Gel (available in various thicknesses, and several brands): This is a great application to add surface texture to your piece. You can apply a gel in “creative” brush strokes to accent texture (i.e. brush strokes of a painting) or emphasize movement (i.e. adding texture to crashing waves). You can paint on top of this medium with excellent adhesion. Easy to use and doesn’t take too long. Ideally, a final varnish coat should be used to increase longevity of the piece, but is not completely necessary.

Key Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Topcoat for Your Digital Print:

  • Gloss will deepen and slightly darken your colours
  • Matte will slightly lighten and flatten your colours
  • Brush-on matte topcoats can look streaky and semi-opaque on dark areas
  • If you are planning to stretch your canvas print yourself, you should topcoat the piece first as it will reduce the possibility of scratching and abrading the print

All of these varnishes, topcoats and gels can be purchased from any Opus store. Please check www.OpusFraming.com for more product information and pricing.