« 'Snapping Their Surroundings' | Main | Suggestion Box »

Friday, 23 May 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

testing testing 1 2 3 4

do not pass go, do not collect $200

this is only a test

if this had been a real event, you would have been instructed to load the microwave with popcorn and prepare for actual, like, y'know, *things* to happen

testing testing 1 2 3 4

Really, it all looks good to me.

By limiting the field to "traditional color printing methods" you're begging the question—What about Black and White inkjet prints?

I know that as a former darkroom worker of many years, I'm going to be labeled a heretic by some, but I'd say that today in 2014, with the selection of high quality baryta papers that's readily available, inkjet black and white prints can be equal or superior to silver gelatin in every respect that you listed in your comment: "controllability, color purity, sharpness, lightfastness, enlargeability, and permanence".

Done well, with comparable materials, it can be difficult for even an experienced viewer to tell the difference between the two in hand—behind glass it's virtually impossible.

Of course, the process of creating those two prints is different in every respect, the wet process naturally feeling more creative in the original sense of the word, and the inkjet feeling more manufactured, in the modern sense of the word. That physical attachment to the process creates a certain bias in favor of the wet print that's difficult to discount, but I'm speaking only of the end product. When the end product (the print) is considered without regard to the process, then in my opinion, the inkjet black and white print is on equal footing with the sliver gelatin print.

I have to agree with you Mike. Once I started working in color, I was continuously frustrated with the whole printing business. I was a decent Mono printer but I never attempted color, too expensive and too finicky for a hobbyist. With Photoshop and an inkjet I can print my images the way I want them to look. In fact, scanning those old negatives yields better prints than I ever could make in the darkroom in many cases

Then perhaps people should have access to old masters' negatives, so we can create our own performance of their composition.

Your recent posts on inkjet prints and "Snapping Their Surroundings" seem very strongly connected to me. It has to do with the unanswerable question, "What is art?" It also seems to me to have something to do with a sort of mysticism. Art can be valued on at least three levels. First is simply the impact of the work itself. An image reaches us emotionally, makes us think, or some combination of the two. This kind of value, it seems to me, is not related to the specific means used to create the image. The second level has to do with a physical connection to the artist. A print might be valued both for its content and because, say, Edward Weston actually made it in his darkroom. His hand touched it. That sort of value is present only when the artist is somehow significant to the person placing value on the work. Finally, there's a value to scarcity. This is present, however, only when the work is significant for some other reason. A painting by Rembrandt is no and a five-year-old child's finger painting are both produced in editions of one. The Rembrandt is valued both for esthetic qualities, which are there in the physical paint, and would remain if Joe Sixpack had put the paint down in exactly the same way, and for its connection to a great artist - his hand actually put down the paint, as well as for its scarcity. My own feeling is that an inkjet print is as much connected to the photographer as a silver-gelatin print made in the darkroom. It's simply the controls that differ. Others legitimately take a different view. There's no right answer. Incidentally, this idea of "hand of the artist" may have something to do with the desirability of an actual signature on the print. It becomes something that the artist's hand has touched in a meaningful way, and so adds the mystical connection.

Of course they are. Any longing for RA4 and Cibachrome is a photographic form of nostalgie de la boue and, I suspect, not something indulged in by any ex-practitioner of those dark arts like me.

I have rarely felt so depressed as when, after a few hours' sweaty misery fiddling with dials in total darkness, I have held that final, highly-reflective piece of plastic with its black borders, like an invitation to the funeral of a packaging magnate.


Mike: Whatever is done is your choice.
I do not want the column to be an onerous burden on you as a result of an unreliable hosting service.
Have seen far too many similar daily/weekly columns go down in flames due to poor initial plans.
Whatever you do has my full support.
Bryce Lee

Yes. Unashamedly, unabashedly, enthusiastically, unquestionably, yes, they are much better.

We run RA-4 (Fuji Super PD and consumer type II) 8 channel Epson 44" and 10 channel Epson 24". The color gamut is much better on the inkjet product, but silver-halide has a look that is hard to beat.(The yellows on silver-halide don't come close to the purity achieved on the Epsons.) In fact most images don't have a big gamut and the tech advantages of inkjet don't come into play. The real problem with commercial inkjet are some of the new small format commercial photos printers that have an coarse screen/dither. Also, a lot of inkjet prints go out the door from machines that are not right - clogged heads, banding, etc. Silver-halide is easier to keep correct, at least until the chemistry or exposure deck goes off.
Silver-halide is a bit more durable, but I always found discussions on abrasion resistance a bit weird - who drags their prints across things if they care about quality?

We'll there are inkjets, and there are inkjets....
And I've just been reading about Epsons new precision core technology, will this make things 'better', or just different? Thoughts? Perhaps something for a new article on the merits of the different inkjet options?

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007