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Monday, 08 December 2008


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For those in (or about to visit) New York, a visit to the accompanying MoMA exhibition, also entitled "The Printed Picture" and curated by Benson, is well worth a look. Although I'll probably buy the book, there's nothing like actually eye-balling the various examples of printed media in person to see the differences and similarities. And for TOP readers, particularly illuminating is the final gallery, in which Benson displays various examples of inkjet-generated prints next to their gelatin-silver (and other) equivalents -- comparisons that demonstrate, without any doubt, that modern inkjet prints (created by desktop pigment-ink printers) are at least as good (at least in image quality) as prints using traditional methods.

Also, a showing of Richard Benson's own photographs at Pace MacGill on West 57th Street just concluded a couple of weeks ago. The show touted in particular the process by which Benson produced these prints -- called "multiple impression pigment-inkjet prints," which are generated by an inkjet printer that Benson configured to print a single image in successive stages.

Apparently, each final print was the product of being run through a printer 9 or 10 times. (I'm not exactly sure whether it was one color at a time, or some other process). The resulting images were indeed, as the press release said, "deeply saturated and vivid."

The multi-pass inkjet process Benson uses is described in this interview/podcast by George Jardine. It's worth a listen.


Hey, thank you Geoff. This book was news to me but sounds like an excellent reference work. A copy is winging its way to me now.

(Thanks, also, to Michael for the podcast tip!)

I was curious to hear how Mr. Benson's multi-pass inkjet prints look. A couple of years ago I read about Craig Blacklock running black & white prints through an Epson 7600 twice to get a better black, but my efforts to duplicate this were an abject failure.

The New Yorker wrote a thumbnail review of Benson's exhibit at Pace MacGill one or two issues back, hinting at the interesting process. Too bad they slagged the show for his "derivative" images; apparently straight landscape photographs aren't hip enough for the New Yorker, unless they're by Joel Meyerowitz.

One should listen the podcast "'The Printed Picture' and the History of Photography" at


Very interesting. Be aware, you will buy the book!

That "Printed Picture" (Yale) podcast is great; I just ordered a copy of the book.

As for the Benson photos in person, I don't recall a great difference between the fruit of his elaborate inkjet method and that from the ordinary (i.e., run-it-through-once) method. (No side-by-sides, of course, were available). The photos did have a luminous and saturated quality, but that could be attributed to many things, I'd think.

(I'd like to look at them again closer to be sure. Anyway, I'll now have to check out that other podcast detailing the method.)

In the Yale podcast, btw, Benson is genuinely (somewhat) self-deprecating about his own photography. (He makes a crack about being a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none type).

I'm not sure I entirely disagree. He might be like Szarkowski in that respect as well.

I have orderd two books that you have recommended through your link.
As I live far from USA or UK I pay a lot for the shipping, so I am bying them few at once. Could you make "RECOMMENDED BY M.J" a link to your few latest recommendation? I wouldn't have to remember the others by heart.

BR, Jakub

This book sounds wonderful! I need this book!
I have been playing with printing photos and creating different developing techniques based on old methods.
I only have a few technical manuals to go on...

this sounds like a wonderful primer before I go into setting up my new darkroom.
Thank you much

I wasn't aware of this book, and on the strength of your review I bought a copy.

I've yet to buy a book through a T.O.P. recommendation that I've been in any way dissatisfied with and this is certainly no exception. The book in itself is beautiful; the production values are very high and the printing quality (printed in the U.S. I note) is superb.

As for the content, it looks absolutely riveting and essential reading for anyone with an interest in the printed image. But as my copy was whisked away by my partner for wrapping as a Christmas present, I'll have to wait until December 25th to immerse myself in it totally...

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