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Basic Color Processing & Retouching For Cosplay Photography

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EZ Prints vs. Mpix Print Test


EDIT: I’ve just been made aware that somehow my order from SmugMug went to EZ Prints instead of Bay Photo like I’d intended. Still don’t know if this is my own error or not, but I’ve amended this post to be EZ Prints vs. Mpix until I get an order in from Bay.

Although print sales have never been an serious source of income for me, I’ve been recently encouraged to make more of my art prints available for purchase. While I’ve sold a few prints via my SmugMug Professional account, because I did not promote the sale galleries, I have had very few print sales over the last few years.  Recently, I have also heard from friends and peers that Zenfolio‘s print store system was more user-friendly, and so in an effort to decide which service I want to use for print sales, I did some light research. One friend had ordered prints from both me, who uses SmugMug, and another friend who uses Zenfolio, and said that she had observed that while she hadn’t ordered identical prints, the Zenfolio prints seemed to be better quality. While I intend to always have a SmugMug account for all my image-storage and hosting needs, I figured out that I can downgrade to Smugmug Power and register for the Zenfolio Premium account for only $10 more than I am already paying for SmugMug Professional.  After all, I just want to offer my clients and customers the best quality possible!

With that said, I turned my attention to the print companies used by each image hosting service: SmugMug primarily uses Bay Photo, and Zenfolio prints through MPix.  Because I already have a SmugMug account, ordering the Bay Photo prints was easy, but because I do not yet have a Zenfolio account, I needed to order through the Mpix site itself, which was slightly more complicated.  (Note: Ordering through a Zenfolio store is much easier!)

Disclaimers: While my photos of the prints are not consistent, I did sit down and carefully examine each set, and my judgments are based on personal observation, not the digital photographs.

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How to Make a Failcake (and Failfrosting!)


It is important to remember in baking a failcake that it should be a spontaneous action – one should not plan to make a failcake.  There should also be no specific recipe to follow, and should only use materials that are on-hand – no running to the store!  If you don’t have an important ingredient…say…baking soda…just make do!

Failcakes are best baked at about 3AM, when you have a random craving for cake, but most places are either closed or sold out of cake.  Failcakes bring immense satisfaction because it’s hard to make it taste completely terrible, even though it fails as a cake in general, and hey, you invented it!

My failcake I made last night is a chocolate failcake with lemon/vanilla failfrosting.  It started out with two cups of flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsps vanilla extract, 1 egg, and 4 squares of melted semi-sweet baking chocolate squares.  This ended up mixing into a powdery dough-like substance, so another egg, a pat of butter, and a splash of canola oil was added.  Still too dough-y and not enough like batter, a cup of water was added.  This made it taste like chocolate flavored liquid chalkdust, so another 6 squares of chocolate were added, as well as a little more flour to thicken it up a bit.  Because there was no baking soda to be had, another egg was added, because it couldn’t hurt, right?

Once I got the batter tasting halfway decent, I poured it into a greased and dusted 9″ round baking pan.  The cake ended up being baked for about 40 minutes, but probably could have gone another 20, as it came out rather undercooked and brownie-like.   Failcakes shall not be soft and delicate, but heavy and brick-like!  Actually, mine came out more like a brownie than cake.

Then it was time for the failfrosting.  Intending to make a sort of buttercream, the last of my butter, about half an inch of a stick, was mixed with powered sugar, and then one tsp. of vanilla extract and one tsp. of lemon juice was added.  Taste tests proved this to be rather like sour candy, so more sugar was added to dilute the flavor.  This made a sugar dough.  Because there was no more butter, milk ended up being used to thin the failfrosting.

When your failcake is cool, frost it with failfrosting!   Be careful about feeding it to other people who can sue you for food poisoning.  Also keep it in the fridge, because who knows if it got cooked enough.  Once your failcake spends the night in the fridge, it will be like a brick you have to carve at with your fork, but that’s okay!  You’ve made a failcake!

And mine is delicious! :)