Hahnemuhle Museum Etching B&W setup and evaluation- A long one

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.

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The thing about nozzles…

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.

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The Lo-Fi Workaround

Seems throughout the last decade or so of large and larger captures, scans, bit depth, layers, etc etc, there is the constant proclamation that memory is now cheap, storage is cheap, go for it! If you are on Macs like me, the ongoing OS evolution, chips sets, software has become burdensome. Suddenly I need a new feature in my bookkeeping software, but the upgrade won’t work on that chipset, meaning an entire new computer, meaning a lot of other software will need expensive upgrading too, just to remain where I was. The high tech industry depends on this of course, but in this economy, for us in the 99%, it’s become impossible. My approach to my hardware and software has become like my grandfather’s approach to his car, he learned everything he could about it’s workings and kept the same old Chrysler going for years and years. It got him from place to place, the heater worked fine, what’s not to like? However, with our larger and larger prints, big scans and captures, added with the ability to utilize a lot of great editing tools on high bit files, horsepower and storage would be good to have in spades. For those of us with particular interest in high quality black and white, it’s critical to avoid loss in single channel files, even more important if we are printing with extremely linear and continuous tone systems like K7. So, here is my workaround for keeping file size and CPU usage reasonable for my collection of old Chrysler like Macs. It’s simple, works well, and makes sense on a variety of levels, particularly if doing ongoing editing for others. My screen shots etc will be on a Mac, CS5, but I have been using this workflow for years on a variety of machines.

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The State Of Inkjet

Naselle River, Washington State. © Tyler Boley. Eight ink blend from Cone Sepia, Warm Neutral, Selenium Peizotone and K7 Carbon sets- blended via hand mixing and in RIP blending.

My photographic print background is grounded in the high standards set by the acknowledged masters of the pre-digital era. Having been exposed to a wide variety of amazing prints, historical, contemporary, all the various methods from hand coated, west coast master silver, color processes, historical, etc… the concern is that those qualities and standards that make photography, and fine photographic prints, unique and amazing as a medium, and as objects of art, do not become lowered or even forgotten. As the technology we use moves from the hands of developers aware of long accepted high craft to a new business culture with no footing in that history, we see many examples of prints made today that just don’t seem to rise above, with that something extra a master managed to work from the available tools and materials. Continue reading “The State Of Inkjet”

Art and Craft

This paper addresses two complimentary ideas. First, it is an example of the evolution of a photographic project and the cumulative effect of decisions made along the way. Second, it is an example of critical technical practices and how in-depth knowledge and uncompromising application can lead to a superior result. Taken as a whole, I trust it will illustrate the necessary synergy of the two.

The project examined here was photographed in 1995 using an old 11×14 Folmer & Schwing camera with a 10×12 back, a 14” Goerz Blue Dot Trigor, and 10”x12” Super XX film. I purchased the equipment with the notation of doing alternative process contact prints. It did not suit my shooting needs at the time and sat for many years. When I embarked on this studio project it seemed the perfect choice for the images I wanted to make. Super XX had long since been discontinued but a test proved that my supply, though less than perfect, was usable. Palladio, a manufactured palladium/platinum paper was available at the time and, since my enthusiasm for hand-coating paper had dimmed, it seemed a perfect choice. The paper proved capable of producing beautiful prints. Ultimately, I made a print set for the model and one for me. The project was then put away for a long time, never really resolved to my satisfaction.

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