Digital photos have become commonplace, but lost in the analogue to digital transition has been how we look at them. Where all of what had been shot would have been sent to a photo lab for paper prints, now it’s a lowly color printer or more likely just a fast look at the computer, tablet or phone’s screen. I’m not here to brag about the virtues of color prints — its superiority is obvious if you actually care about looking at what has been shot — but about “how” those pictures should be printed.
Being able to look at a picture day in and day out (or even just in passing from one room to the other) requires an emotional connection: that’s fairly easy if it’s your favorite scene, child or person or pet. But to have it stand out so it’s not being taken for granted requires a bit more effort than found in a quick visit to a 1-hour print machine at Kinko’s or a drugstore. That’s where a specialized type of printing can stand out, and the suggestion is to “aluminyze” them.
This process embosses the image onto a solid (and a bit heavy) piece that is obviously more durable than paper, but what’s important here is that it makes the colors “pop.” The prints themselves are produced with the consumer in mind, in that the edges are curved to avoid any mishandling issues and with the image extending to the edges to take advantage of the entire print area. So much for the physical.
Ordering is done online, with the picture chosen uploaded. Obviously that’s the fastest way to do things, with the resulting costs being delegated to the print itself (many sizes to choose from) and having it shipped to you. As expected there is the choice of mat versus glossy and other options. But the main thing should be, and is, that the printing process is no longer that where the process imparts a “greenish” tint to the overall image. That’s not what one wants (or pays for) and it’s not what one gets. What one gets is a solid color fidelity, with no worries about it fading over time. Obviously the original image needs to be of reasonable quality itself (especially if a big picture is to be made).
I had gone to the Aluminyze website and ordered an 11 x 14” of a picture of Frankie, my miniature dachshund who passed away some years ago. The image of him relaxed on the bed is a comforting one to see, and improved upon by the level of contrast and highlights that the aluminum process brings to it. The site provides a number of shapes, as well as frames, and I admit the idea of having it put onto a license plate or a smartphone case was appealing. But being a traditionalist about some things, I went with a standard print. The site’s interface takes you through the needed steps and then you pay and wait. Which I did.
The resulting image, received in a little over a week, is what I had hoped for, as the qualities of the aluminum print catch the light in a superior fashion to that of a regular print (a bonus given that where I planned to put it isn’t all that well lit). Having gone to this much trouble to make the print, it’s only right that it stands out better than a regular paper print would. And it does.
One of the reasons that we shoot photos is to have a memory to look back at. Printing those memories — rather than leaving them as digital bytes — should be encouraged. Printing them in the different fashion that Aluminyze presents is a good way to do this.