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Author Topic: Print Longevity testing at a crossroads  (Read 8192 times)
Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #40 on: September 06, 2012, 09:56:39 AM »
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Somewhere along the line the switch from analog to digital caused this disconnect. I'm not at all sure how.
Pretty simple.  Ask yourself how many of these photographers have/had darkroom experience.  Anyone laboring over a print in the darkroom and trying to get the final print right knows how much time and effort just making a single print takes.  Digital developing is a piece of cake in comparison.  It's just so easy to reprint a digital file relative to a negative that might have a bunch of dodging and burning required.  In addition, a lot of us outsourced color printing and only did B/W.
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davidkachel
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« Reply #41 on: September 06, 2012, 07:20:42 PM »
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That has not been my experience at all. I started the switch to digital 4+ years ago. I find that it takes just as long, if not longer, to get what I want out of a digital print. OTOH, I can produce a better print digitally than I could in the darkroom and the second digital print is...

Heaven on Earth!!
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deanwork
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« Reply #42 on: September 07, 2012, 10:16:55 PM »
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If concerned photographers can't take the limited amount of time necessary to read Mark's clear easily understandable description of his testing method and, then look at these charts, then they don't deserve to benefit from his work. Maybe they need to go back to elementary school to learn basic 4th grade math.

The entire problem with this whole topic is that "joe photographer" is lazy and really doesn't give a shit in the first place or he would take the trouble to read the text.

Now, the success of Wilhelm, if you want to call what he does success. is -it dumbs down and generalizes the real facts of this area of science. If people want anything close to accuracy and precision in regard to the not so simple arena of image permanence then Aardenburg gives it to them. It is VERY SIMPLE - light + time = change. If you can't see those professionally graphed changes in the color charts fading and shifting in hue then God help you. Just use your eyes if you can't read the simple numbers. He's done everything any one could possibly hope to do in this area of inquiry. The problem is people don't have any money due to this economic downturn. And, as we all know, corporations that could support this don't care. Corporations are not people.

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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #43 on: September 07, 2012, 11:26:35 PM »
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Well, maybe Joe Photographer is busy ...

I'm a retired professional photographer who from the age of 27 was involved only in photography and printing for a livelihood, and I probably averaged 70 hours a week over a 30 year career.  While having a family and 3 kids.   I have many photographers who are now customers of mine, many with a great eye and doing some really nice work,  and most with full time careers and families that place huge demands on their time. some are full time photographers and they usually work awful hours between shooting and post processing, others have other careers and they've picked a hobby which is extremely time consuming. They want to shoot ... everything else is a distraction and they want to do as little of it as they can. They care, but if I tell them one ink/paper combination might last 30% longer than another ink/paper combination, but then I tell them that's the difference between 80 years and 120 years ... your right .. they don't care.  It's fine for those that do, and it's fine that those that don't.  I know it's hard to believe, but those that frequent this forum really aren't very representative of the photography industry as a whole.

Trying to push one's passion onto others or call them lazy because they won't take the time to wade through all of the information of the site ... well great that you have time, but I have other things I'd rather do.  Bottom line there are two sources of information, and one of those has a considerable amount of expertise and experience and is well known and respected, and while perhaps another feels there are better ways to do things and is extremely knowledgeable and experienced, that doesn't mean the other guys an idiot.  The real problem is there is no standard .. so the real difference is in what they might measure as important and at what points they feel the "line" has been crossed.  Until someone comes up with a standard, it's two opinions, both based on science and they are only valid when compared against their own data.  If one contradicts the "established" position, then it's time to convince the world what's wrong with that position ... but perhaps unfortunately you have to do it within some similar context, otherwise you leave a lay audience to try and compare apples to oranges. If you are the new guy challenging the status quo, it would be beneficial to at least make it extremely clear in layman's terms in an extremely concise manner why you think you're information is more "valid"  than the other. And to be relevant you have to convince the industry that you are right and get those that make the stuff to value your opinion.  There will never be enough end users to influence those who actually make the stuff.  Even if I decided Mark was right and EEF was a problem paper and quit buying it, and even if I quit selling it in my store ... sorry, won't make a blip in the radar.  And I don't think you'll get enough places to go along to make that blip.  So unless you get the  manufacturers to value the opinion and data it remains a labor of love/passion/interest. 

And I don't think this is "dumbing" down that data.  I think it's about presenting the data in a simple and  comprehensible manner.  What's wrong with saying you have x number of standard points to measure and those points somewhat correlate to "x" years under certain types of conditions?  We're all smart enough to know those conditions vary wildly ...the important piece of information which is difficult to extract is how well does paper a compare to paper b and paper c. That's what everyone wants to know.  It's tough to get info from Wilhelms site, but once you find the right document you can easily see how one paper stacks up against another with a particular inkset and how various factors such as glass etc. affect the longevity.  You call it dumbing down, I call it logical.
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MHMG
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« Reply #44 on: September 08, 2012, 09:32:48 AM »
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Well, maybe Joe Photographer is busy ...

....They care, but if I tell them one ink/paper combination might last 30% longer than another ink/paper combination, but then I tell them that's the difference between 80 years and 120 years ... your right .. they don't care.

And I don't think this is "dumbing" down that data.  I think it's about presenting the data in a simple and  comprehensible manner.  What's wrong with saying you have x number of standard points to measure and those points somewhat correlate to "x" years under certain types of conditions?  We're all smart enough to know those conditions vary wildly ...the important piece of information which is difficult to extract is how well does paper a compare to paper b and paper c. That's what everyone wants to know.  

Wayne, please reread these two excerpts from what you wrote, again.  This is precisely why AaI&A is now challenging the industry not to translate megalux hours to "years" on our behalf, and why I fault the industry for having done so.  Both "light exposure dose" (i.e, megalux hours) and "years" ratings give anyone the opportunity to quickly assess if product A is 30% more lightfast than product B to use your example. In fact, if I simply split the difference between Kodak's recommended light level assumption of 120 lux per 12 hours per day and Wilhelm's recommended assumption of 450 lux hours per day, I could easily justify using 228 lux for 12 hours per day. And when the testing laboratory now arbitrarily assumes this illumination level on your behalf, then guess what? Megalux hour ratings now translate exactly into "years on display". Wink  For example, an AaI&A lower CDR rating (the lower CDR rates the weakest part of the system) equal to 10 then means the print buyer will observe little or no noticeable light-induced fading for 10 years or more if your light level stays at or below 228 lux for 12 hours or less per day. It's that final caveat for assumed light level which is the problematic assumption because, again, as you noted " those conditions vary wildly" in the real world.


To summarize this point, WIR "years" ratings and AaI&A conservation display ratings reported in megalux hours both give you what you say you want... an easy way to compare the relative lightfastness of one product versus another, e.g., that "one ink/paper combination might last 30% longer than another ink/paper combination" as you suggested. The only other big difference between WIR ratings and AaI&A ratings is the assumptions that the two labs make about "allowable fade".  As I've said many times in various forum threads, WIR uses a consumer-oriented criterion for "easily noticeable fade" (nothing wrong with this consumer-oriented approach at all, IMHO) and AaI&A uses a museum/fine art criterion for "little or no noticeable fade" (which is more appropriate for prints having artistic and/or historic value), so our ratings will be systematically different based on the differences in our visual criteria for allowable/acceptable fade. Pick which criterion better suits your needs. The WIR and AaI&A testing assumptions about "how much fade are we talking about" are both valid choices for the stated reasons, but people do need to realize that any testing lab's chosen test criteria have important ramifications regarding their relevance to the end-user applications.

So, why do I strongly believe the industry made a fundamental mistake to translate test results into "years" on your behalf. It comes down to this basic issue: when you use a relative "years of life" rating rather than an absolute "exposure dose" rating to imply to your customer that he doesn't have to worry about print fading for x number of years, then that standardized prediction begins to mislead the public into believing an absolute number of years for their safe display time of all prints made with that particular product regardless of how the prints get displayed. The reality that, again to use your words, "We're all smart enough to know those conditions vary wildly" quickly gets overlooked, and thus the "years of life" score becomes grossly misleading whereas a numerical score based solely on exposure and avoiding light intensity assumptions remains valid no matter how high the light level is in the display area.

Once again, I am very grateful to all who have been participating in this thread. You've given me more ideas to consider. More than one of you has asked for a simple categorical ranking system. It wouldn't be too difficult to derive one from the AaI&A test results.  It's not hard to envision a digital print light fastness merit rating or award somethlng like the Olympic medals "gold", "silver", "bronze", and maybe one or two more categories like "fugitive", "not recommended", etc. for some easy-to-digest guidance on the printer/ink/media combinations that have been tested.   Of course, to do this fairly and with future proofing for tomorrow's new technologies, the highest award has to be reserved for the extremely lightfast prints, and thus in today's market, many "archival pigmented prints" won't get much past a bronze medal. So, an AaI&A category ranking scheme may become a case of "careful what you wish for".  Also, I generally don't like categorical rating systems like A, B, C, or five stars, fours stars, etc., because of the problem of "binning", i.e. sorting all the products into just three or four bins or barrels.  Simply put, the "expert" creating the categories must make further assumptions about what truly constitutes good, better, best, and there must also inevitably be rigid pass/fail boundaries between the categories. Hence, two products that are almost nearly identical in performance can by luck of the draw land just above and just below one of the category boundaries. Then, for example, the "A" rated product looks much better than the "B" rated product when in reality those two products aren't that much different in performance. Think of a school exam where one student get a 69 out of 100 on an exam and another student gets a 70 out of 100 score. The numerical 0-100 point scale tells a more revealing story, but when that numerical scale is reduced/simplified to just a few categories, then one student gets the C (satisfactory) while the other gets the D(poor), and the D rated student then has more explaining to do to his parents.   So, to summarize, categorical rating schemes do offer basic guidance and are meant to be a quick-look summary of the issue, but they can introduce their own set of biases as well.  Such is life. I do realize we humans benefit from these types of categorical rating systems when there isn't time to delve further into the subject matter.

best,
Mark
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 03:07:12 PM by MHMG » Logged
Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #45 on: September 08, 2012, 10:03:49 AM »
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Mark,

The other useful discussion point is the relative strengths/weaknesses of various inksets.  You and I have corresponded about Epson's Yellow in the K3 set which is the weakest link.  With certain paper combinations, one sees rather quick fading of some critical colors as well (skin highlights with Museo Portfolio Rag).  Thus, it is a little more complicated than just using a standard number; one needs to know which colors fade and what the relative rate of fading is.  A particular paper might be good for B/W printing but not so good for color printing.

Alan
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davidkachel
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« Reply #46 on: September 08, 2012, 01:15:35 PM »
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The entire problem with this whole topic is that "joe photographer" is lazy and really doesn't give a shit in the first place or he would take the trouble to read the text.

That is precisely the wrong attitude to take, and is the one guaranteed to lead to failure. You don't attract more people by being exclusive and dismissive.

If Joe Photographer doesn't give a shit, it is because those of us who do, failed in our responsibility to interest and educate Joe.

This also leads to a downside for those of us who care. Why are there so few choices for B&W-only ink sets? Because too few people seem to be interested. If we educate Joe, more Joes will become interested in print quality and longevity and ink sets will improve and proliferate. The nicer and more helpful you are to Joe Photographer, the more you benefit.

Don't think so? Much of the driving force in film and paper manufacturing was the result of amateur photographers being influenced by fine art photographers and wanting to mimic them.
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MHMG
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« Reply #47 on: September 08, 2012, 02:09:27 PM »
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Mark,

The other useful discussion point is the relative strengths/weaknesses of various inksets.  You and I have corresponded about Epson's Yellow in the K3 set which is the weakest link.  With certain paper combinations, one sees rather quick fading of some critical colors as well (skin highlights with Museo Portfolio Rag).  Thus, it is a little more complicated than just using a standard number; one needs to know which colors fade and what the relative rate of fading is.  A particular paper might be good for B/W printing but not so good for color printing.

Alan

Yes, the reality is that today's digital printers generally use more than one colorant and often considerably more than just one concentration for cyan, magenta, and yellow. If one colorant and/or colorant concentration amount is far more stable than another, then one's ability to notice fade in the print will be highly image content dependent. This is the underlying reason for the AaI&A conservation display rating using both a lower (worst case) and upper (average response) limit rather than just reporting one worst case limiting factor.  You can quickly deduce the colorant blending effect in both the WIR test results and AaI&A test results that compare the same printer/ink/media combination only one test target is printed in full color while another is printed using in the printer driver's "B&W mode". The B&W modes create a print using predominantly the photo gray and black inks with just enough magenta, cyan, and/or yellow to complete the desired monochrome tint. For the major OEM inkjet pigmented ink sets, the photo gray inks are often several times more stable than the yellow or magenta ink, so an image printed without much yellow or magenta, for example, will logically be much more lightfast than an image containing important color information content which must be printed using major amounts of the weakest colorant(s).

AaI&A takes the impact of "color blending" further by publishing the light fading response of the printed reproduction of all 24 macbeth color chart color patches plus media white, max system black, and four additional skin tone lightness values. This "extended Macbeth" color set has proven to be an extremely important bellwether for total system performance and where the strengths and weaknesses of the system actually lie especially the media white and four additional skin tone colors.

Alan correctly identified in the AaI&A test reports that Epson's weakest pigment is the Ultrachrome yellow. In fact, if you study the Epson HDR test results in the AaI&A database carefully, you will see modestly superior test results (about 10%) overall for HDR ink over the K3 or K3VM ink sets when using the Epson OEM printer driver. The effect is due to the HDR orange and green ink substitution over yellow. Epson makes no improved light fastness claims about the HDR set probably because it's not a huge effect, and because the test method Epson employs reports only the limiting factor which is the yellow ink common to all three Ultrachrome Ink sets, but the AaI&A light fading test method does pick it up. To elaborate a bit more on the HDR ink set, there is a methodical study in the AaI&A database of printer/ink/media and driver performance done on both Epson Hot Press and Cold Press papers. Two sets of test targets were made on both an HDR printer and a K3vM printer using  same ink and paper batches, one set using The Epson OEM driver and the other set using Imageprint RIP. The test was designed to see if choice of driver can influence light fastness to any significant degree based on screening pattern and/or the way the blended colors are achieved. As it turns out, the answer is yes. Compared to the OEM driver, the Imageprint RIP substitutes a more liberal amount of orange ink for colors that would otherwise need more yellow and magenta ink, and a more liberal amount of green ink for colors that would otherwise need more yellow and cyan ink. By displacing the weak yellow with orange or green, the Imageprint RIP improved the overall fade resistance in these tests by 20-30% for the printer using HDR ink. No difference between drivers was noted for the K3VM ink set because there can be little difference in yellow amounts needed to form the correct color, and the screening pattern differences apparently aren't enough to budge the test result with regard to light fastness.

Other systems can have weak magenta, sometimes black believe it or not in the OEM dye-based systems, but a weak black generally doesn't become too much of a problem unless feathered via GCR into lighter tones. The dmax areas of the image are indeed fading but they contain excess ink. and this excess masks the faded black dye molecules.  HP cleverly weakens it's magenta and cyan inks while choosing a more stable but somewhat less vibrant yellow pigment than the Ultrachrome yellow. This fade matching exercise leads to the perhaps counter-intuitive advantage of "balanced" fading, ie. how can more total fading be better?  Well, it turns out that people notice weird color balance faster than changes in overall lightness and image contrast because we encounter so much brightness and contrast variations naturally, but our visual system always tries to maintain some rational orientation to color temperature of the scene. If you compare test results for HP Vivera pigment versus Canon or Epson, you will see I* color scores dropping disproportionately faster than I* tone scores (color imbalanced fading) for both Epson and Canon pigmented ink sets whereas the HP results will generally show I* color and I* tone dropping at more even rates (lightness and contrast changing while color accuracy (hue and/or chroma accuracy) remain higher longer in test.

I certainly understand that this in-depth research is way too much information (TMI) for many photographers and printmakers, but I started the digital print research program because I didn't see enough available information provided by the vendors to choose printer/ink/media/driver/coating combinations wisely for my own work, and I believed it would help other serious printmakers, collectors, curators, etc., make more informed purchasing and safe environmental display decisions as well. That said, there's no harm in trying to create better "executive summaries" of the research findings, perhaps by sending out a newsletter discussing "Mark's picks and highlights for the day" or by adding a simplified category rating scheme to the AaI&A website or both. Anyway, all it takes is time and money. The data is already there to accomplish.

best,
Mark
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 02:48:20 PM by MHMG » Logged
Paul Roark
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« Reply #48 on: September 08, 2012, 05:09:02 PM »
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Mark,

Good luck with whatever direction you decide to take http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com/ .  Know that there are way more than 1000 people who have been affected by the results of your efforts.  It has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a huge contribution to our field.

I'm not sure I can add more than has already been said, but I'll add just a few comments.   I suppose I would consider a non-profit format (501(c)(3)) and try to get institutional support.  (The non-profit format does not necessitate reliance on volunteers.)  I would think that universities and museums would be possible sources of funding.

I'm not sure what your practices are, but I think that testing for a fee, where the results would not be made public unless and until the purchaser of the services wanted them public, would induce more vendors to test materials where they did not know what the results would be.  Maybe you already do this in your consulting mode.

The thoroughness and resulting complexity of your reports are both the reason they are so valuable to a person like me, but also rather useless to a company that may want to use the results in advertising.  The Wilhelm display ratings are much more *apparently* useful to naive purchasers than a Conservation Display Rating.

In terms of cutting costs (and mostly your labor) is there a logical place to stop testing for at least most samples?  That is, while we know there can be non-linear results relative to the initial changes, is there a point where one can extrapolate results with some accuracy?  Do results for different types of inks become rather more linear after a while?  I, for one, would rather see more combinations tested to 100 Megalux hours of exposure than fewer tested to 200 Mlux-hrs.

I suspect you've thought about all of the options for many hours.

It's sad that most people would rather spend $50 on a bottle of wine than contribute that amount to an effort that will have a lasting impact on our medium.

Best Regards,

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com



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marfa.tx
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« Reply #49 on: September 08, 2012, 05:19:20 PM »
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---
It's sad that most people would rather spend $50 on a bottle of wine ----

Best Regards,

Paul
www.PaulRoark.com


$50 on a Bottle of Wine ?!?... surely, you meant on A BARREL of wine. Gulp.   Grin


marfa.
where wine comes with pop-tops and goes well in a workshed.

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richard
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« Reply #50 on: September 10, 2012, 09:55:04 PM »
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I would pay AaI&A for the right to use that text, and it might include a suitable AaI&A logo.

Those of us who sell to the actual public are often looking for ways to legitimize our work, have it taken seriously or give it a pedigree or something similar

+1, however may I suggest you drop the "AaI&A" nomenclature?  It hurts my eyes to read that and my fingers to type it.  Keep it simple = "Aardenburg Imaging".  Simplicity does not mean less value.  I learned that a long time ago as it applies to the software business.  It can be as complex on the insides as it needs to be, but it must be simple and approachable when you are talking about the "interface" between user (humans) and tool.

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davidkachel
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« Reply #51 on: September 11, 2012, 09:08:23 AM »
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Hey Marfa,

I'm in Alpine.

Small world!
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BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #52 on: September 12, 2012, 02:21:36 PM »
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Mark, I've read with interest your explanations (careful, detailed, and no doubt valid) for the approaches you have taken to your testing and publication of the results.  However, I am reminded of the maxim which goes something like, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got."  I think you in fact want to "get" something different by way of broader interest in and support for your work.  That will necessitate doing something different.  I don't know what that should be, but hope that you will figure it out.  --Best wishes again, Barbara
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« Reply #53 on: September 12, 2012, 06:18:42 PM »
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Mark, Sorry I am only just now seeing this thread. As you already know I belive in your work and I am proud to sponsor your project with my company (by the way contact me offline about that).

Unfortunetly if you want higher volume, you have to get simple. In todays day and age, people do not want to read or think very much. If the average person cant get some useful info from your site in less than a minute they willl click off. A very good book on ecommerce is entited "Dont Make Me Think" and one of the main things it says is get rid of half the text on your pages. Then it says to get rid of half of the remaining text. People need to be able to figure out a page in just seconds.

In a previous life I use to be a computer engineer. I was intimately familier with computer hardware and software. Now I am less concerned about the hardware, the OS or software...I am running a business and I care about my application. I am not alone, that is why sales of PCs are down. Apple created the iPhone and iPad that help make it easier for you to focus on your task with an application and forget about the hardware OS and software behind it all.

Most people will not care about the science behind the testing. All they will care about is which will last longer, paper x or paper y. Ink x or ink y. Unfortunetly, it depends on the type of light, temp, and humidity but if you could come up with a "typical" expsure where you pick some average numbers and perhaps a mix of a little sunlight, tungstun and flourecent and then just show a graph it would be a lot easier. I say graph because I know you have the other issue of the decay rates not being linear, however it is easy to show that on a decay vs time graph and easy to show a comparison by having lines in other colors for other products. Anyway, if you can get your site turned mostly into pictures, with links to text with the indepth data and science for those who want more, you might have a better chance.

I can provide  some info to you about SEO if you give me a call, but bottom line is SEO is labor intensive. Now, if you are able to create some simple useful pages that help the avearage person it will automatically help SEO because then people will be posting links to those pages in blogs and forums and google will take note. However, it has to be obvious to a person what the conent of the page is about, and it has to be obvious to a google bot what the content is about so that google knows when to offer your page in the results.

Cheers,
Mark
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Mike Allen
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« Reply #54 on: September 13, 2012, 04:59:13 AM »
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My mate makes picture frames and picture mounts the mountboard they use acid free conservation mountboard which gives a guarantee of over 300 years.  Next I see him I'll ask him how in the UK they workout that it will last 300 years - rather than 50 or even 550 years etc.  I'm presuming they have a way of artificially aging the mountboard.

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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #55 on: September 17, 2012, 05:22:58 PM »
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Interesting article posted the other day on the What's New section that highlights Aardenburg testing of ImagePrint RIP for B/W printing on certain Epson printers that use the HDR color set.

Alan
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