Wednesday, 8 April 2020

A zine project

In January 2020 I posted a thread about making books and zines on Talk Photography forum, which lead to someone else starting a zine swap thread. I originally intended to make a zine using some of my poultry photographs, but that fell by the wayside when I read the suggested page count for the zines. I decided to do a project specifically for the thread challenge, having in mind a series of night time black and white pictures. As usual my plan changed yet again!

It was taking photographs of reeds that got me thinking about, and shooting specifically for, a set of pictures to be presented in a small (16 page - including cover) zine.

My initial efforts were all quite random in style as I worked out both what I wanted to show and how to show it. Pictures were sorted in Lightroom and an initial selection made.


The next step was to take the pictures into a publishing application. As it was a small zine I used OpenOffice which I have used before so know my way around. However it tends to freeze with larger numbers of images. Sixteen pages would be OK.

The images outputted from Lightroom were made in the print module at the size of the proposed zine - A5 portrait. This was where I played around with page layouts. I have a habit of embracing random acts when it comes to designing things and when I set the images to a square format I liked the look of them on the page. This lead me to crop all my selected pictures to a square. Not all of them worked when cropped and I also saw that there wasn't a consistent look to the pictures. Regardless of that I then made a dummy copy of the zine on my desktop printer, in black and white, just to get an idea of what the layout would look like.


With that done I went back to take more pictures which would fit my new vision for the series. This was to eliminate the sky from the pictures, to think in terms of squares, and to keep the colour palette limited. A couple more visits gave me a new selection of pictures to select from. These I laid out in a virtual contact sheet where I edited them down, crossing out the rejects, circling the probables and leaving the maybes unmarked.


Returning to the publishing software I sorted through the sequencing and changed the cover design and project title. Another black and white dummy was made. Satisfied that I was getting somewhere I made a colour dummy. 

This was the stage where I left the project to simmer. It's always a good idea to step away for a while. I find it stops the inevitable tinkering that happens when a project is almost complete. The break also allows you to come back to things with clearer eyes.

Refreshed I made some alterations to the sequencing and added a few words of text to the inside front cover. I also thought that this could become a bigger project looking at reedbeds through the year, or at least in summer as well as winter. I added a subtitle to the cover and made a fourth dummy.

After a couple of days I knew that the other parts of a bigger project were unlikely to happen and got rid of the subtitle. The zine was now ready for proof copies from on-line print services Doxdirect and Mixam. The Doxdirect proof was the full zine, including card cover, at full price. Mixam's was their 'free' (pay postage only) eight page (side) proof with no cover.

What the proofs would do was give me a chance to compare the print quality of each service and to see how the pictures reproduced in this print medium.


As far as reproduction quality went there was nothing in it. However Mixam's colours were a little closer to what I saw on my screen and outputted from my home printer. Both proofs showed up one picture which wasn't reproducing well and some which needed reprocessing. The odd picture out was ditched from the sequence and I went out to take some more in the hope one would take its place. I was successful. All that was left to do now was wait and see how many copies would be need printing to send out when the 'zine challenge' deadline was up.

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