the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

A Rose by Any Other Name

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare might be right about roses, but I’m not so sure about the came can be said about photos of roses. I have the accompanying image of a rose currently in the Ocean Shores 2014 Juried Photography Show.  In preparing for the show, I printed it last week on canvas and really liked the result. However, when I turned the canvas into a gallery wrap, I stupidly ruined it, scratching off some of the ink and making white spots on the canvas. Easy enough fix – just print it again. Wrong!

First, an aside about printing. Printing photos seems like it should be easy. But, if you want to get the color right, it is not. Everything needs to be calibrated. You need a calibrated monitor so that the color you see on your monitor is the same color sent to the printer. You need a printing profile, so that the printer knows the correct way to print the color. Add in a less-than-intuitive printing menu in Photoshop and a similarly unintuitive printer setup menu and you have a recipe for printing problems. Well I have a calibrated monitor, and a profile for the canvas I was using. Plus, I am familiar with the menus, at least enough that I should know what I’m doing.

So, I printed another canvas, and it looked totally different. So, I thought, I had some setting wrong; so again, I printed another canvas. Still not the same. I found my profile for the canvas was actually for the Epson 3880 printer and I have an Epson 3800 printer. I downloaded the correct printer profile, and carefully printed one more time, making sure all the printer settings were correct. Yes, I had the correct settings, but it still looked different from the original. It was at that point I realized that I had printed the original canvas incorrectly and that I liked that incorrect version the best!

At this point, I was starting to run low on canvas. I had enough for perhaps three more attempts to re-create my printing mistake to get back to the result I liked. On the final attempt, I got it right and re-created the original canvas. It turns out, I told Photoshop to let the printer control the color management (mistake) and then told the printer to make no color adjustments (not a mistake if Photoshop controls the color management, but certainly a mistake if the printer is supposed to). Regardless, I had the version of the rose I liked.

However, when I got ready to varnish the canvas, I brushed some dust off it, and ended up with a couple of white spots! Turns out I didn’t blow the dust off the canvas before putting it in the printer and ended up printing on the dust instead of the canvas (another mistake). So, in the end, I used the one that was printed totally correct (with the correct profile and all the correct settings), made it into a gallery wrap, and submitted it to the show. Funny thing is, that if I had printed it correctly the first time, that is the same print I would have had in the beginning.

I always try to learn from my mistakes, but in this case I made so many mistakes on printing this canvas that I’m not even sure what the lesson is. Two things I did learn (or more correctly re-learned): 1) pay close attention when printing to make sure you get all the setting correct, and 2) there is always more than one interpretation of an image, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your processing (rather than leaving it up to printing mistakes to find something you like better).

Here are two versions of the image, which I’ve titled “Rose #3.” Which do you like better?

This version is true to my processing of the image, ie. this is what I was originally trying to print and, in the end, what I ended up with as a final product.

This version is true to my processing of the image, ie. this is what I was originally trying to print and, in the end, what I ended up with as a final product.

This is similar to what my first print looked like when I mistakenly (and unknowingly) used the wrong printer settings. At least on the canvas, I like this version better.

This is similar to what my first print looked like when I mistakenly (and unknowingly) used the wrong printer settings. At least on the canvas, I like this version better.


20 responses

  1. sarahz78

    They both look lovely… today I like the first one better… by evening I might like the second one more ^^

    April 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    • Thanks for commenting Sarah.

      April 3, 2014 at 8:46 am

  2. That was really a fun read Joe. You amaze me! I like the warmth of the first one on my calibrated 27″ NEC monitor. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge so freely!

    April 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    • Thanks Ernie. Though I wouldn’t call sharing my mistakes as knowledge necessarily!

      April 3, 2014 at 8:47 am

  3. I prefer the first one more 🙂

    April 3, 2014 at 2:17 am

    • thanks for sharing your opinion!

      April 3, 2014 at 8:47 am

  4. rlboston

    I prefer the first one as the off-white is more noticeable but it would depend on your intention.

    April 3, 2014 at 5:18 am

    • Actually, I prefer the first one as well when viewing on a computer monitor, but when printed on canvas, the second one brings out more emotional feel for me.

      April 3, 2014 at 8:49 am

  5. I love the second one!

    April 3, 2014 at 6:59 am

    • Leave it to a Wild Rose to prefer my rose mistake! 🙂

      April 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

      • Yes sir! I still believe it’s beautiful! 🙂

        April 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

  6. James Mears


    I think your artist sense is leading you. I like the second “printer mistake” version too.

    Best regards, James Mears Longview, Tx.


    April 3, 2014 at 7:35 am

  7. I liked the first one, though would’ve brought down the luminosity and saturated the red a touch.

    April 3, 2014 at 8:10 am

    • Dave, the first one is certainly more true to life, which is probably why I processed it that way to begin with. It was a peachy-orange colored rose and saturating the red more would be yet another interpretation. I’ll have to try that. Thanks your suggestion!

      April 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

  8. Both are fantastic!

    April 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

  9. I am amazed at how different each photo feels to me. Viewing the first rose on my monitor I can feel how each petal is soft, vulnerable, blushing, graced with a touch of golden light. The second rose feels so strong and dramatic. I can feel the heat of the sun and the reaching of this rose to meet the power of the sun. I like both! Thanks!

    April 5, 2014 at 5:00 am

    • Thanks for your comment, they do feel quite different, don’t they?

      April 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm

  10. Nice pics. Thanks.

    May 5, 2014 at 3:35 am

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