Since going through this process throws light on several issues, some perhaps peripheral, but important, I decided to post the process. Everything from why it was required, through execution and completion may be applicable to others in a variety of situations. When I first started inkjet printing there were no good coated fine art papers at all. Iris prints had sparked our imaginations, and affordable desktop Epsons raised our hopes. The only papers that seemed to be able to take the ink were some heavily sized papers from Arches, and the mainstay of the times, Somerset Velvet Radiant Fine Art, all still beautiful papers. They could take very little ink, were far from accurate with any driver setting, which threw us into the world of profiling, and when under control still have small gamuts and low maximum densities. Suddenly Luminos, Media Street, and several others came out with coated fine art papers that took ink remarkably well, and we were off and running. All of them seemed the same, I was using a lot of Lysonic Fine Art, which seemed identical to papers from the others with different names. Then, the Hahnemuhle brand appeared, and we all learned they were making these beautiful papers, and others were rebranding them. This 400 year old company has been making some of the finest art papers in the world, but as photographers they were new to us. It turned out my Lysonic Fine Art was Hahnemuhle German Etching. What remains remarkable to me is that Hahnemuhle’s earliest offerings back then, their fine art papers for which they had developed ink receptor coatings to prevent wicking, hold ink dots tight and sharp, handle high ink loads, and present the ink with remarkable densities and gamuts, those very first coated papers.. few have met or exceeded that performance in all this time. Many wonderful papers have come out under a variety of brands, and are viable choices for a variety of needs, but Hahnemuhle remains among the best for fine art matte density and gamut performance.
We are happy to be able to share this recent essay by the American photo critic A.D. Coleman. This is the complete text of a lecture delivered on November 8, 2011 at Hotshoe Gallery, London, co-sponsored by Hotshoe International, Viewfinder Photography gallery, and the VASA Project.
Mr. Coleman was the first photo critic for the New York Times, the Village Voice, and the New York Observer. His work has been published in countless publications within the last 45 years all over the world. Please visit and follow Mr. Coleman’s blog and support it with a small contribution if you can. He is one of a kind in his attempt to keep the professionalism of photo criticism intact in a dignified way, and that is a rare thing these days. http://photocritic.com
Thank you for coming out for this event tonight.
Before I begin, let me also thank Colin Finley, Melissa DeWitt, and Miranda Gavin of Hotshoe International and Rui Cepeda of Viewfinder Photography Gallery, as well as Roberto Muffoletto of the VASA Project, for bringing me here today. I especially commend them for engaging in a synergistic collaboration on this program that can serve as a model for other arts organizations in these fiscally challenging times.
And I want to dedicate this talk to the memory of the late Chris Dickie, publisher and editor of Ag: The International Quarterly Journal of Photographic Art & Practice. In his role at Ag, and before that in his editorial position at the British Journal of Photography, Chris was the first to put my work regularly before the UK audience, offering me platforms I valued enormously. I got to meet him only once, last fall, at a Royal Photographic Society event, just months before his passing, but our fruitful collaboration lasted almost twenty years, and I miss him very much.
Before I start in talking about subtle, often modest scale Japanese photography and the legacy of photographic prints as intimate, introspective, and highly crafted objects, I think I need to point out that there are of course infinite ways to use print technology to produce timeless, penetrating, poetic, and even monumental statements. This is a pluralistic and global world we’re apart of, with many avenues available for communicating and showing work and that is increasing, not decreasing. I see totally opposite approaches to using photography existing at the same time, at the same place, and I can appreciate all of it as valid, interesting, significant, and in a way inevitable. I try to appreciate work on its own terms if I can.
I realize this hardly rises to the level of issues we love to talk about here , but I run into this so often it’s worth noting in the hope it saves even one person some inkjet grief. I run into this time and time again, someone calls, their color is not right from their Epson and they want to troubleshoot the entire system, wonder about recent paper batches, ink batches, and usually want new profiles. Given the dramatic failure of the digital graphics community to keep color management viable, from Apple to Adobe to Epson messing something up with almost every update, no wonder the assumption is that something has gone horribly wrong.
In 2002, Epson introduced their first improvement to black & white printing when they added a light black ink in the then new Epson 2200 desktop printer. It would take Epson nearly five more years before they would deliver two shades of light black ink in the R2400 desktop printer. Epson considered the Ultrachrome K3 inkset to represent “a turning point in the history of inkjet printing.” With three unique levels of black, Epson claimed that the new Ultrachrome K3 color inkset “dramatically improves both color and black & white prints.”
The two light shades of black did dramatically improve Epson Ultrachrome K3 prints, but only in comparison to earlier Epson Ultrachrome prints. Over the same time span and even several years earlier, specialized black & white inksets flourished. Piezography® transformed from a quad-black (four shades black) inkset in 2000 to a septone (seven shades of black) inkset in 2005.