Red River Paper Blog

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My Boxes of Red River Paper

Not long ago, I published a picture on my Facebook page of an “odds and ends” room from my studio. I was writing about an older iMac DV Special Edition that I kept in there. But a number of sharp eyes noticed the boxes of Red River Paper that I keep on hand.




It’s true: I love having a variety of surfaces to choose from when it’s time to print with my Epsons. But I’ve found these boxes handy for more than just storing sheets of glossy and matte.

Whenever I need to build a temporary platform or makeshift stand, I reach for my boxes of Red River Paper. They’re always perfect for the job at hand.

In this photo, I’m using a 5×7 box to elevate my camera as part of a makeshift slide digitizer. The 5×7 boxes are particularly useful because they’re not too big. But I’ve been known to build temporary shelves with 13″ x 19″ cartons. You just never know.

So yes, I will always have plenty of Red River Paper on hand because it’s my absolute favorite for great image quality.

But I also like those boxes…


-Derrick Story


Shooting Perfect Sunsets

By Arthur H. Bleich

You can’t beat a magnificent sunset to make you feel, as Robert Browning put it, “God’s in his heaven– All’s right with the world.”

Frequently though, all’s not right with the pictures you took. Without the salty aroma of the ocean, balmy summer breezes or the sounds of birds singing in the trees, your sunset photos can be a real letdown. While there’s no way to bring back the sensory elements, just a bit of pre-planning can give your pictures that missing zing.

If the sun’s in the picture, your camera’s light meter is going to say: “Oops, too bright, I’d better make the aperture smaller or shutter speed faster (or both) to cut down some of that light.” Result: a perfectly exposed sun (at least as much as possible) and sky colors that could be too dark.

Then again, if there’s no sun in the picture, the metering system might see the colors of the sky as too dark and tell the camera to open the aperture wider or to expose at a slower shutter speed (or both) to get what it thinks should be a good picture. Result: washed out colors that don’t seem to have the richness and saturation you remember.

To get perfect results use your camera’s Exposure Compensation feature to second-guess your camera’s choice of exposure. You can access this feature with a dedicated button on more sophisticated cameras or as a menu item on simpler ones; it overrides the camera’s normal exposure setting to deliberately under or over expose your images. Plus-sign (+) numbers make pictures lighter and minus sign (-) numbers make them darker.

Shoot the first picture at what the camera chooses. Then expose several others using plus or minus numbers (or both) depending on the scene. Among them, the right image will jump out at you– just the way you envisioned it. A few cautions: If the sun’s in the scene, be careful not to go over Plus 1– more than that may be too bright for some camera sensors. And remember to return the exposure value number back to zero when you’ve finished because on most cameras it will stay at its last setting even if the camera is turned off and then on again.

Esthetically, the most dramatic sunsets are either framed by objects in the foreground, have a center of interest further away or both. Many sunset pictures fall flat because there’s no sense of depth created by objects in the foreground, or nothing further away to give the feeling of scale before the eye runs smack into the horizon.

Try for something in the foreground– for example, a tree or a person silhouetted against the colorful sky. (Make sure your flash is “off” for this effect.) More distant objects could be structures (like a lighthouse or a sailboat) or a barn or grazing cattle if you’re shooting a rural sunset.

Finally, to spice up the colors, take your camera off the “Auto” white balance setting and manually set it to “Cloudy” which will add reds and yellows to warm up the colors so they really pop.

A dramatic sunset at sea was shot in the Caribbean by workshop attendee Birget Bienek during a digital photography cruise conducted by the writer of this article.

A dramatic sunset at sea was shot in the Caribbean by workshop attendee Birget Bienek during a digital photography cruise conducted by the writer of this article.


Datacolor Webinar: Co-sponsored by Red River Paper


Custom Printmaking with Fine Art Paper



2:00 pm (Eastern Time)


Join us as we discuss fine art printmaking with special focus on landscape photography.  Each image has its own character and color palette. We’ll review methods you can use to match photographs to different media types before printing. Color management in post-production, including soft proofing will also be covered. A demonstration of printer profiling using the SpyderPRINT will be provided, along with a review of examples of printed images, evaluated for density, color palette, dynamic range and more. Last, we’ll have a brief discussion about print coatings, finishing materials, framing, and archiving.




Attendees will have the chance to win a Free Datacolor SpyderPRINT OR $100 Red River Paper Gift Certificate and Sample kit as well as receive exclusive discounts!




Beginner’s Corner – What in the world is White Balance?

by Charlie MacPherson of The Amazing Image

If you’re just starting out in photography – or perhaps just getting more serious about improving your images – you’ll come across a lot of confusing term.  One of them is White Balance.

Get it right and your images look just as you would expect.  Get it wrong and you’ll wonder why the entire image has a bizarre color shift!

So let’s dig in.

Virtually all cameras from the most basic “point & shoot” to the most advanced DSLR has a white balance setting.  It can either be in the camera’s menu or might be accessible with a button on the camera body.  Normally, it’s labeled “WB”.

It’s there because in order for the camera to produce images that are the right color, it has to know what color the light is.

The color of light is expressed in degrees Kelvin.  That is the color of light given off when a theoretical “black body” is heated to that temperature, just like the elements of an electric stove or the filament of a tungsten light bulb.

Here are the normal settings and their K ratings along with an image to show you the effect of each setting.  This image was shot in daylight conditions with some overcast, so the correct setting was daylight, or 5200K.


Shade – 7000K



Flash or Cloudy – 6000K



Daylight – 5200K – this is how the bears looked in real life.



Fluorescent – *4000K


Tungsten - 3200K

Tungsten – 3200K

You can see that the white balance setting has a dramatic impact!  Here’s the important thing – if those bears had been illuminated by a tungsten light source and the camera was set to tungsten white balance they would appear perfectly natural, just as they do in the “daylight” photo.

The key is to set the camera’s white balance to match the color of the light that the subject is in.

* Fluorescent can vary wildly from 4000K because there are so many colors available.  Look at the Philips Lighting website and you’ll see a selection that includes Soft White at 3000K, Neutral at 3500K, Cool White at 4000K, Natural at 5000K and Daylight Deluxe at 6500K.   Most Nikons have a much better selection of fluorescent color temperatures that the Canons that I’ve owned, which generally have only one.

You’ll also see two other settings in most cameras:

Auto (AWB) – the camera look at the scene and through the magic of electronics, makes a decision and sets the white balance for you.

Custom WB – this is a bit more advanced.  The custom white balance is the most precise way of getting it right on the money.  You take a white or gray target and hold it in the light you’ll be shooting in – and photograph it.  You then navigate through your camera’s menu and tell the camera to use that image to set the white balance.

So, by now you’re asking “So, how should I set the white balance on my camera?”

Unless you want to set a custom white balance every time – and that’s probably not necessary unless your shooting something critical like weddings or products – there are two possibilities.  Manually set it to match the lighting conditions or let the camera do it automatically by setting it to “Auto White Balance” (AWB).

For the sake of simplicity, beginners might want to go with AWB.  It just removes one more variable from the list of things to remember and makes shooting that much easier.

When the camera picks the white balance, it’s important to realize that it isn’t going to choose only from the pre-programmed values described above.  It will set the precise value that it thinks is right.  So rather than selecting 5200K for daylight, it might well pick something like 5172K.

AWB will do a good job most of the time.  The only risk is that the camera makes a new decision for every shot and might come up with a slightly different setting on each shot.   So a series of images of the same thing might show a little color shift throughout the series.

You can see why that might be important in a wedding – you really want the bride’s dress to be white in every shot.  If you print the bride’s album and the dress is slightly different shades in each shot, you’ll have an unhappy bride – and there’s almost nothing worse than an unhappy bride!

So for those who are not beginners, I suggest that you set the white balance manually.  That’s what I do, just because I want to have that level of control.  White balance is just another setting in my checklist.

I hope that makes the murky waters of white balance a little more clear!

Boldly Going Where No Lens Has Gone Before

By Arthur H. Bleich

You can fiddle around with in Photoshop to merge several images taken at different distance settings in order to increase your depth of field but nothing does it better (or faster) than Helicon Focus, a stand-alone application created by a team of developers, headed by Dan Kozub, in the Ukraine who relish taking on software challenges like this.

Easy, automatic and intuitive, Helicon Focus blends images you've shot at different focus points and makes it look like you've used a miracle lens that defies the laws of optics.

Easy, automatic and intuitive, Helicon Focus blends images you’ve shot at different focus points and makes it look like you’ve used a miracle lens that defies the laws of optics.

Helicon Focus combines a series of shots that have had their focus points set at different distances and merges them into one image that has incredible depth of field. No camera or lens combination (not even view cameras with swings, tilts and f/64 apertures) can match the results.

You just set your camera to manual focus and shoot a series of shots, advancing the point of focus from near to far as you go. Then upload the stack of images to your computer, open Helicon Focus and it blends them into a single image that’s in sharp focus from foreground to background.

These "before" (left) and "after" (right) game board images show that with Helicon Focus you don't need special cameras or lenses to keep everything in focus from near-to-far.

These “before” (left) and “after” (right) game board images show that with Helicon Focus you don’t need special camerasor lenses to keep everything in focus from near-to-far.

When you shoot your images, you’ll need a tripod, of course, and subjects that are fairly stationary (or can hold still); Helicon Focus does a superb job on close-up photography (through microscopes or with macro lenses) and also produces amazing landscapes (when you want infinite depth of field).

Three different versions, Lite, Pro and Premium are offered; the last two come with an additional gem, Helicon Remote. It pre-programs the focusing steps on most Live-View-equipped Canon and Nikon cameras to cover the range you need and then rapidly fires the shutter while changing the focus of each image automatically.

Pricing runs $30 to $240 and discounts are offered if you upgrade from one version to another. A 30-day fully functional demo of Helicon Lite is available free for a try-out.

Thru The Looking Glass

by Shelly Katz – / email:
“It’s not always about the destination, sometimes it’s about the journey.”
Flying Over Central California. Photo by Shelly Katz

Flying Over Central California. Photo by Shelly Katz

     Often when on my way to photograph at an exotic location, I’m reminded of that cliché as I make a very memorable photograph looking out the window of my airplane.
     In fact, sometimes looking out the window are beautiful, dynamic, even poetic, images just waiting to be captured. Perhaps it’s a colorful sunset or maybe a dramatic or tranquil cloud formation – or the design of the texture of the earth’s surface from such a high altitude. What a great opportunity to take advantage of the changing composition, color and lighting.
Pacaya Volcano rising thru the dust and clouds after takeoff from La Aurora Airport, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Photo by Barbara Guerra

Pacaya Volcano rising thru the dust and clouds after takeoff from La Aurora Airport, Guatemala City, Guatemala. Photo by Barbara Guerra

     You do, however, have to overcome a few technical issues – like remembering to turn off the built-in flash – and to manually focus on infinity instead of auto focus which would probably focus on the window. Also, don’t forget to hold the camera lens close to the window to eliminate glare, but don’t let it rest against the window or the vibration of the plane will cause your image to be shaky. Furthermore, you might want to use a fast shutter speed to compensate for any motion of the airplane.
     Additionally, I highly recommend “Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking” by Julieanne Kost to give you a more in-depth look at the definitive collection of stunning photographs that can be done through the window of an airplane and how they came to be.
Book Cover and Photographs from Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking by Julienne Kost

Book Cover and Photographs from Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking by Julieanne Kost

     Now as a variation, imagine making pictures underwater without getting wet or having to purchase expensive underwater gear.
     If so, consider shooting sharks at an aquarium that is constructed around the audience, or a fish tank that allows you to be so close to the fish and coral formations that it appears as though you are in the water.
Underwater Photos by Shelly Katz

Underwater Photos by Shelly Katz

     Remember, don’t let a barrier stop you from “shooting thru the looking glass”; it’s probably just giving you an opportunity to shoot something different.

Note: All accompanying photos were shot thru glass and are reproduced with the permission and courtesy of the photographers. All images are copyrighted by the photographers and any reproduction without written permission is strictly forbidden.
Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking by Julieanne Kost
Artwork of Barbara Guerra Chudej – Visit on the Internet:
Dallas World Aquarium
1801 N Griffin St,
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 720-2224

Ask Tim Grey – Print Sizing

To receive more tips from our friend and digital imaging expert Tim Grey, visit Ask Tim Grey and sign up for his eNewsletters.


Today’s Question: In Photoshop you can easily juggle image size and canvas size to obtain a print with the image size and border combination you desire. In Lightroom 5 I cannot find a similar set of functions in the print module where I can do the Photoshop equivalent. The presets in Lightroom 5 give you a maximum cell size in both length and height depending on what paper size you select. How do you do you get the operational equivalent of Photoshop for this purpose with Lightroom 5?


Tim’s Answer: You can control the size of the print on the paper with the same degree of control in Lightroom as compared to Photoshop, though the process is a little different.

In Photoshop, the Image Size command allows you to adjust the size of the actual image based on pixel dimensions. The Canvas Size command allows you to adjust the size of the document, including both the actual photo as well as surrounding space that would presumably be empty (though it doesn’t need to be empty). Therefore, in many cases unless you’re using a color for the canvas area, increasing Canvas Size doesn’t really have any impact on the printed image. It simply makes it a little easier to see the relationship between the image and the paper. So, for example, you might resize the image as desired, and then adjust Canvas Size to match the final print size, so you can get a sense of the size of the image in the final print.

In Lightroom these factors are controlled through the paper size, the image size, and the available space outside the image (which is obviously dependent in large part on the size paper you’re using).

The first step then is to adjust the paper size based on the intended output. You can start by selecting a preset that is close to what you’re looking for, and then change the paper size (if necessary). You can do this by clicking the Page Setup button at the bottom of the left panel in the Print module. In the Page Setup dialog, set the desired size of paper you’ll print to using the Paper Size popup, and then click OK.

Next, you’ll want to adjust the image size. In effect, you’re defining a cell size within which the image will fit, but you can go about this in a couple of ways. If your focus is on the actual image size, you can focus your attention on the Cell Size sliders, setting the size for Height and Width to define the size you want the image to be. If instead your focus is on how much extra space is available on the page, you can adjust the Margins sliders to ensure there is space at the edge of the printed page, which will in turn cause the Cell Size sliders to adjust automatically based on the amount of extra space you’re using for margins.

You also have the choice of whether you want your image to be presented in full, simply fitting within the cell you’ve defined, or if you want to crop the image to the exact size you’ve set under Cell Size. If you want the image cropped you can turn on the Zoom to Fill checkbox in the Image Settings section of the right panel. If you turn the Zoom to Fill checkbox on, you can also then drag the image around within the cell to determine which portion of the photo you’d like to have visible. If you want to exercise more control over the cropping of the image in this context, you would need to use the Crop tool in the Develop module.

And, of course, if you want to add a color around the image as you might do when using the Canvas Size command in Photoshop, you can set a Page Background Color in the Page section of the right panel in the Print module in Lightroom.

Obviously these controls and the overall approach are different compared to what you might do in Photoshop. But in large part you can achieve the exact same result in Lightroom as you might achieve in Photoshop, when it comes to sizing an image in a specific way for printing.

To learn more about printing in Lightroom, you may be interested in the “Lightroom 5: Printing” video training course, which is available to those who have purchased my Lightroom 5 Video Training Bundle via my new GreyLearning website.


Pixology Magazine Get indepth articles every month that will help you optimize every aspect of your photography, with my digital magazine, Pixology. Subscribe today here:

Pixology Magazine
Get in-depth articles every month that will help you optimize every aspect of your photography, with my digital magazine, Pixology. Subscribe today here:

Your Camera- A Tool, Not A Jewel

Post by guest blogger Arthur H. Bleich

For those of you who are not professionals and take pictures for the love of it, technology is your most formidable opponent. Digital cameras have far too many features for you to become comfortable with, especially if you don’t (and I know you don’t) shoot a couple of hundred pictures a day. Film cameras, on the other hand, had relatively few features which made it very easy to take pictures instead of wasting time on button pressing and menu diving.


I met Marc Riboud, the now-legendary French photojournalist, years ago when both of us were shooting in the small Arctic village of Kotzebue, Alaska. We were on assignment for different magazines and we each had state-of-the-art film cameras. But both of us had turned them into virtual point-and-shoots so we could concentrate on capturing the images we needed. We were shooting Tri-X, a black and white film that would be push-processed to an ASA (ISO) of 1200. And yes, some pictures would be grainy, but the resulting smaller apertures and/or higher shutter speeds meant they’d be in focus and not blurred.


We pre-set distances on the focusing ring so that everything that needed to be sharp would be– without us having to waste time constantly turning the ring to focus (remember, no auto-focus then). We’d take a light meter reading (no auto-exposure, either) and then manually bracket exposures under difficult lighting conditions. We essentially cut the amount of fiddling around with camera controls to a minimum so we could concentrate on our picture making, and the resulting images showed it.


The point of this reminiscence is to encourage you to look at your camera the same way you’d look at a hammer. It’s just a tool, the picture’s the thing. As the saying goes: “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.” Professionals have a great deal of respect for their cameras; nevertheless if a few dings are required to get the shot, well, you can always buy another camera, but if you lose a great picture, it’s gone forever.


When the front element of his expensive lenses sometimes frosted up, Riboud would impatiently wipe them off with a leather-gloved finger so he could get his picture. The glass looked like it had had been acid-etched with a spider web. At the time, that was a bit much for me, and I protested but Riboud laughed: “Makes no difference, I got the picture. The scratches don’t show.”


Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a jewel-of-a-camera if you take control of it and not the other way around. To begin with, set it to “Program” and shoot away. Over 95% of your pictures will come out just fine in this semi-automatic mode. Then, hike up the ISO, noise be damned. You’ll be able to shoot at higher shutter speeds to stop more action and get images with greater depth of field. And guess what? You’ll never notice the artifacts unless you blow your pictures up to some insane size which you can’t do anyway with the printer you own.


Finally, take your camera out in bad weather to capture some unusual images. Most photographers never use their cameras in rain, snow or dust so you’ll be able to come back with pictures they’d never get. Remember, the more beat-up your camera looks, the more you’ve been using it as the right tool to get the right stuff. Carry it around with pride. It shows you’re serious about photography.


If Arthur Rothstein had worried about ruining his camera, this iconic image of a 1936 killer dust bowl storm in Oklahoma might never have been taken. Library of Congress Photo.

If Arthur Rothstein had worried about ruining his camera, this iconic image of a 1936 killer dust bowl storm in Oklahoma might never have been taken. Library of Congress Photo.