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Apple knew it had something special to share with the world when it released iPhoto in 2002: in addition to printing 20″ by 30″ poster-sized photos, the originalÂ iPhoto’sÂ “most stunning feature” (according to Apple) was a page layout tool that quickly turnedÂ digital photo collections into printed hardcover books. These were Apple’s acknowledgements that tangibleÂ photos still had value in a digital era, andÂ it subsequently addedÂ calendars, greeting cards, softcover books, and letterpress cards to iPhoto. Apple’s newer app Photos for MacÂ hides these options under the File menu at the top of the screen, and hasn’t expanded on them,Â a shame considering how nice the results look.
But apart from including the poster options in 2002,Â AppleÂ never added “large-format art” to the list of things its photo apps could produce. Back in 2002, digital cameras were so low-resolution that they struggled to produce pixel-free 4″Â byÂ 6″ photos, so it’s no surprise that Apple wasn’t trying to build a market for largeÂ prints. Thankfully, aÂ lot has changed since then.Â Canon currently sellsÂ two 50-Megapixel cameras, Sony has one 42-Megapixel camera, and Nikon offersÂ four 36-Megapixel cameras. iPhones and iPads can create up toÂ 43-Megapixel ultra-wide panoramas.Â A large, properly-composed printÂ from any of these cameras (or even the more common 20- to 25-Megapixel cameras people are using today) will look amazingÂ hanging on the wall of your home or office… if you know how to do it.
I wanted to see what the best options were for large-format photography, so I reached out to a collection of excellent art print services to see how digital photos would look on metal, glass, and canvas — materials Photos doesn’t offer. In Part 1 of this How-To guide, I’m looking at large-format metal prints that apply dyes and gloss directly onto aluminum surfaces, with results as saturated asÂ Apple’s famous “nanochromatic” iPod nanos.Â Part 2 will look at large-format canvas and glass prints. Read on for all the details…
When you research the world of metal photo printing, two names come up repeatedly. First is Image Wizards in North Carolina, which lays claim to having invented metal photo prints, as well as ubiquitous earlier ideas such as printing photos on coffeeÂ mugs and mouse pads. Image Wizards’Â AluminArte is considered the gold standard for metal photo printing, and can be produced in sizes ranging from 12″ by 20″ to 48″ by 96″ ($130 to $1,030) — that’s four by eight feet, a surface large enough to make a life-sized print of a basketball player (with room on the edges to spare). You get the choice of four different finishes – white aluminum or brushed in your choice of satin or gloss – plus three different types of frames in your choice of three colors.
Image Wizards offers a lot of different customization options, but its web site is very basic. You specify yourÂ choice of sizes, finishes, frames, and shipping packaging, then provideÂ your shipping and billing information. Next, youÂ just upload your file to the company without any additionalÂ site-based adjustment or previewing of the image. Consequently, you’ll need to do your cropping in Photos, iPhoto or Aperture, and make sure that your image looks right before uploading it. My finished Image Wizards print was very slightly cropped on the left side relative to the original image.
I was pleased by the quality of the Image Wizards print, and super impressed by the company’s frame. The AluminArte process preserved all of the original image’s rich saturation, which pops nearly as much on the 24″ by 18″Â frame as on the internallyÂ illuminated, comparably-sized screen of a 27″ iMac. An anti-scratch coating provides HDTV-like gloss, and is capable of resisting finger gouges; Image Wizards includes a large cleaning cloth to preserve the shine.Â Additionally, although I’d selected a floating frame, Image Wizards recommended a frame to edge version that considerably stiffened the edges of the thin aluminum print, providing black boxy edges and a measure of reinforcement against accidental damage. It was a great recommendation, though it added $78 to what would otherwise be a $145.65 price.
As shown above, the detail level in the AluminArte print is pretty impressiveÂ for a large piece of wall art, preserving even the individual textures of strings in the original 24-megapixel photo. ThereÂ were small color differences — smaller than the comparison here suggests — which aren’t noticeable unless you hold the image directly up next to a monitor.Â While the AluminArte print wasn’t as large as the others I tested, and I didn’t have a 50-Megapixel Canon to push the outer limits of the company’s process, most DSLR users (and many point-and-shoot photographers) can expect similarly detailed, beautiful results even at slightly larger sizes.
Another widely recommended metal print resource is Mpix,Â a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging in Kansas. Mpix does a lot of different types of photo printing, including canvas gallery wraps and boxy “standout” photos. But it also offers Modern Metals, aluminum prints thatÂ range from 8″ by 10″ to 20″ by 30″ ($34-$155). The prices are aggressive, though as a trade-off, you’ll have no physicalÂ options beyond choosing the size. You can use the Mpix web site to adjust the zoom, cropping, and rotation of your image, optionally adding various facial retouching services for $8 per retouching service per person; that’s it.
Mpix’s prints arrivedÂ amazingly quickly after my order was placed, and I was thrilled with theirÂ value for the dollar. Once again, the saturation and detail on the printsÂ were spot-on with the original images, making colorful images really pop. I was astonished that buildingsÂ in the distance were as clear in the Mpix printsÂ as in the Canon 5D Mark III images I shot, and that I needed to magnify the originals to absurd levels to find pixel-level distinctions.Â The only comparative issue I ultimately noted was a slight blow out of bright spots, which in all honesty affected such tiny parts of the huge images that they were hard to spot.
Mpix notably offersÂ 30″ byÂ 20″ metal prints for $155, a roughly 36″ diagonal that’s larger than the display of any current or past Mac. While that’s not as large as the biggestÂ Image Wizards print, Mpix’s options tend to be somewhat less expensive at given sizes.Â Part of that price difference isÂ because there areÂ fewer frills here than with Image Wizards, as MpixÂ doesn’t includeÂ a cleaning cloth or offer multiple frame or finish options. However, the frameless mount is sturdy and works exactly as expected, providing three mounting points in a line. Moreover, just like with the Image Wizards prints, Mpix’s prints were finished with aÂ glossy surface treatment that made them look like UHDTV screens – really beautiful.
If you’re looking to make giant, wall-worthy metal art prints from your digital photographs, Image Wizards and Mpix both have advantages worth considering. The multiple finish and framing options offered by Image Wizards are good premium touches, while its ability to produce human-sized aluminum canvases for your photos could completely wow viewers with scale alone. By contrast, Mpix’s simpler options and pricingÂ still deliverÂ surprisinglyÂ strong image quality, and make an impact with the option ofÂ larger-than-Mac-sized prints. You won’t be disappointed with either company’s products.
More From This Author
Check out more of myÂ How-To guides and reviews for 9to5MacÂ here!Â I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users.Â Donât forget to click on Older Posts at the bottom of the page to see everything!
Filed under: How-To, Mac Tagged: Aluminum, Aperture, artwork, Digital photography, Image Wizards, IPhoto, Metal, Mpix, photos, prints
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Yowza. That burns hot. Watch as a Petrogen Multi-Fuel cutting torch nicks right through a stack of metal and cuts it clean off. The cutting system can use liquid fuels of any kind, including âgasoline of any grade, âwhiteâ gas, camping fuel, and stabilizer additive fuelsâ and âdiesel, kerosene, biodieselâ. Basically, you pump fuel into this thing and other things start going poof.
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Casey Chan on Sploid, shared by Chris Mills to Gizmodo
No, that's not a sponge. It's a piece of metal that's light enough to float. Researchers at New York University, who invented the substance, say it's also strong enough to build boats with.
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As users unbox their new Apple WatchÂ units today,Â customers who bought the Sport versionÂ are receiving a bit of a surprise. The inductive chargingÂ cable bundled with Apple Watch Sport is actually made of plastic rather than the nice metal finishes of the more expensive stainless steel and gold watches.
The material is very similar to other Apple accessories which have white gloss exteriors. It’s unclear why the Sport does not get the fancier cable: it may be simply for cost-saving purposes to maximize Apple’sÂ bottom line or it may be a design choice to better match the materials of the Watch itself.
The Sport charger was actually spotted in an Apple environment video earlier this weekÂ although at the time it was unidentifiable. Apple’s public messaging did not make this distinction clear between the variants of Apple Watch,Â so some customers unwrapping their Apple Watch Sport purchases may be disappointed by this revelation.
Filed under: Apple Watch Tagged: Apple watch, Apple Watch Magnetic Charger, Apple Watch Sport, charger, Metal, plastic
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Making a real life version of Link's iconic Hylian Shield from the Legend of Zelda may be the most impressive weapon Man at Arms: Reforged has ever made. It required a perfect design, a lot of grunt work in curving the metal sheet, expert embossing and basically melting pieces of metal together to form the final shield.
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The funniest thing youâll see today: A death metal cover of Mary Poppinsâ âSupercalifragilisticexpialidociousâ
One staple of musical humor over the past several years has been to perform death metal covers of songs that are otherwise happy andÂ upbeat. While this kind of joke has grown somewhat stale, there are times when someone comes along and does it so well that you still have to tip your cap. Such is the case with YouTube userÂ Andy Rehfeldt, who arranged and performed a brilliant metal cover of Mary Poppins' "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" with the help of vocalistsÂ Sera Hatchett andÂ Thomas Hinds.
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I'm not going to give my aluminum cans to recycling centers anymore. Instead, I'm going to melt them down to liquid metal and create awesome metal objects with them. All I need is a hair dryer and some charcoal to create this awesome mini metal foundry. It turns about 40 cans into a pound of aluminum.
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