The Future of Preserving Prints

Collecting and recreating images is a practice as old as humanity itself. From cave-wall paintings to Snapchat updates, our species has always found creative ways to preserve moments that would otherwise have faded from memory. As we advance the tools we use to preserve these images, the question arises: How long will a new format last until it must be replaced?

From Print to Pixels

London’s Cambridge University Library is home to some of the most important literary works in the history of the world. One such piece, The Manual of Calligraphy and Painting, is renowned not only for what it contains, but for being something only a few people have seen. The original 17th century Chinese tome, containing over 138 paintings and poems, is a rare book indeed. The Cambridge copy, considered too delicate to open, remains closed within its display. Fortunately, the book has been reprinted many times over the centuries, and those reprints paved the way for the new digital incarnation.

landscape painting
Image via MentalFloss

Since the book holds such historical significance, the library explored several options for making its pages available when the book itself couldn’t be opened. Using one of the older reprints, the library made digital copies of the pages that scholars and the public would be able to view at their leisure. Now everyone can see inside the book that helped revolutionize printing technology.

In a Snap

It may be hard to believe, but most of today’s youth have no idea what it’s like to hold an actual photograph in their hands. These days, posting a photo to a “wall” usually means sharing it on social media. Yet there’s a growing movement looking to bring back printed photographs in the digital age. The company leading the charge is one whose name is synonymous with “point and shoot.”

camera and snapshot
Image via Wired.

The Polaroid camera brought a much-needed simplicity to consumer photography. A camera that took and instantly printed photos, it did away with the need for professional development. Later, with the advent of digital photography, most people went without physical prints altogether.

Yet Polaroid has seen a revival in the Digital Age. Last year saw the introduction of the company’s Cube mini-camera and Zip instant mobile printer. This year will see an addition to their new digital line with the introduction of the Snap (see above). Although the Snap doesn’t have the extensive editing features of smartphone cameras and photo sites like Instagram, it does come with flash, timer, and instant ink-free printing.

The camera is scheduled to hit store shelves this winter for $99.

See what Develops

If the history of technology has taught us anything, it’s that no format is perfect or permanent. Even digital images are subject to degradation. But with each new advance comes the ability to preserve images for generations to come. We’ve come a long way from cave-wall paintings. Now we just need to make sure they're preserved for future tribes!

Mastering Photo Printing

6. September 2013 10:23 by Calvin Yu in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

With more people using digital cameras, more are also printing these digital images at home. To avoid the hassle of store development, and extra processing fees, photo printers are a good investment for amateur or professional photographers alike. However, unlike a professional lab, many individuals might be unaware of specific ways to best optimize printing from home. The following tips will help you get the most out of your photo printer, allowing you to best capture all of life's precious moments for many years to come. More...

High-Resolution Printing Without Ink

Inkless-Printing-image.jpg

One of the most dynamic endeavors in the arena of computer technology has been the quest to build a machine that will offer the sharpest rendition of any given image in the highest resolution possible. Through the years, the technology has advanced and there have been numerous innovations for consumer needs, such as three-dimensional printing, which has enabled people to create anything from artificial skulls to Star Wars figures. Unfortunately, despite the innovations in the realm of computer printing, stumbling blocks have come about, which will make the widespread use of this technology possible only many years in the future.

A Pioneering Discovery in Singapore

In August 2012, a team of scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore have struck upon a method of producing high-definition, full color images at 100,000 dots per inch without using any ink. This resolution is ten times that of top-of-the-line printers, which feature the ability to print images at a mere 10,000 dpi.

A Novel Concept Inspired by an Ancient Idea

Taking their inspiration from the concept of stained glass, which was made by mixing tiny metal fragments into glass, the scientists used nanometer-sized metal disks arranged upon a reflective surface. When the disks come into contact with light, small vibrations their electrons occur, resulting in the adding or subtracting of colors from the visible spectrum, depending upon where the disks are placed. Since the disks are so small, they can be clustered very closely together, yielding a particularly sharp image.

As such, this technique allows coloring to be viewed an idea that has more in common with the concept of etching an image into stone, as opposed to an inking matter. Such a concept could very possibly bring radical change to the notion of how images are printed and further developed.

New Possibilities Abound

It may take a good deal of time before this technology is made widely available for everyday use, especially since the process of 100,000-dpi inkless printing takes hours. However, it bodes well that this innovative method will be particularly useful to industries specializing in high-resolution reflective color displays, anti-counterfeiting measures, high-density optical data storage and perhaps one day might enable more detailed three-dimensional printing. In fact, for months, A*STAR's technology transfer arm, Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd, has been shopping this technology around to potential collaborators in the hopes of finding a suitable licensing arrangement.

Maximizing Your Home Photography Printing

inkjet photo printerAs digital cameras are now the preferred method for taking photographs, the business of photographic printing at home has grown. Often times, however, many who get home printers aren't aware of which printers are best to buy, the cost involved with printing photographs at home, and other important information on the subject. We wanted to provide that information both for those amateur enthusiasts and devoted pros. 

An easy place to start looking for photo-based printers is by browsing through technology blogs' best-of lists. For instance, CNET has a list of the best inkjet printers for photography. Inkjet pinters are preferred because they tend to save ink over laser printers, are more compact, and use technology where tiny ink droplets create a higher quality image. When considering specific inkjet models, it's a good idea to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much do I want to spend? Inkjet models can range from $160 to almost $500 depending on the features and manufacturer.
  • How big are my photos going to be? For images larger than 8 x 10 inches, you'll need to consult a professional printer. For those smaller sized photos, home printing can save a few cents per photo, and a lot of added convenience. This review of printing 4 x 6 inch prints showed the reduction in cost at home.
  • What else do I need my printer to do? While this seems like a no brainer, many neglect to consider everything they use their printer for. If you're looking for copy or fax ability, and to be able to print higher volumes in black and white, a multi-purpose inkjet is your best bet.
  • How much does the ink itself cost? Many don't take into account the cost of color ink, which can run $20-$50 per cartridge, depending on the model. Visit our website to do cost comparisons, and to find potential deals by buying ink cartridge packages for multi-cartridge printing.

Once you have considered the right model, it's important to consider if you want to do photo-editing. While most computers have basic image editing capabilities (including cropping, changing saturation or sharpness, and resizing), for those who need more advanced image-editing capabilities, you'll need to consider additional software. The most popular software is Adobe Photoshop, which costs $699. However, if you're not familiar with this software, it may require books or online courses to become familiar with all of the features, so it is only recommended for those devoted pros.

It's also important to be aware of two things while using these home inkjet printers. When printing with a high-gloss photo paper, you will need to give your prints time to dry, otherwise your image will smudge. While the ink cartridges sometimes clog, especially after periods where they haven't been used for a long time, they can be fixed easily, and many resources are available online to guide you through that process.

Now that you know the many advantages, minor disadvantages, and other considerations when choosing photographic printing at home, you're ready to go out and record those special moments you want to remember forever! Feel free to share your favorite photos or other home printing tips below.

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