PDA

View Full Version : thoughts on switching from film to digital for Pt/Pd



Greg
29-Jul-2017, 17:01
Over the past few months have read that two (master) Platinum/Palladium printers have switched from capturing their images with LF and ULF film cameras, scanning, and making digital negatives to simply shooting digital and then going directly to making digital negatives.

I did three Whole Plate Pt/Pl prints. One shot on Whole Plate film, scanned, made a digital negative, and printed a Pt/Pl print. Second shot on 6x7 film, scanned, made a digital negative, and printed a Pt/Pl print. Third shot with a Nikon D4, made a digital negative, and printed a Pt/Pl print. There are slight differences in the tonalities but sharpness a toss up. Showed them to some fellow photographers. All agreed that they differed a bit in their tonalities, but to pick out which was which not possible. The Achilles heal to this comparison might be that all were printed from digital negatives. Printing directly from film negatives verses digital negatives, the prints might look a lot different, but I print only from calibrated digital negatives to save a lot of $$.

Was wondering what other photographer's thoughts were on this.

Vaughn
29-Jul-2017, 17:30
My workflow (in-camera negatives directly to Pt/pd and also carbon) is part of my whole artistic endeavor from seeing the light, so to speak, to framing the print. No cropping, no burning/dodging...what I put on the film goes into the print. For that reason I am not interested in printing from inkjet negatives

It is just the way I prefer to work. Printing from inkjet negatives satisfies your desires for the what you want in the print. Since one's tools do have an effect on how one works, the images themselves might change depending on your tool for capturing the light. Not just sharpness, tonality, etc, but what and how you photograph. It certainly does for me.

Mark Sawyer
29-Jul-2017, 18:22
All the differences you saw in the tests could be compensated for as you accumulated experience, regardless of which you and your test audience of fellow photographers preferred.

The moral/religious/tradition argument says your mortal soul will roast in Hell for eternity for doing historic processes digitally, so don't do it.

The pragmatic argument says it's easier in that it reduces the necessary skill set and time/effort commitment, and since the outcome is the same, why not?

It's always the photographer's call...

jp
29-Jul-2017, 18:59
I wouldn't disrespect someone working with digital negatives when the results are good.

I know Tillman Crane has been mixing it up with some digital capture and some LF capture. Perhaps nobody is fussier for pt/pd. He started making digital negatives years ago so as to be able to make a LF captured photographs printable in more than one size for certain exhibiting needs. Now he also uses a Fuji digital camera as some scenes are more practically photographed with a small casual camera (such as street scenes). My observation is that if you know how to make the prints you like with LF negatives and you add digital negatives, it's not a crutch or religious transgression, but just another skill for that alt process medium. The person who can do both is then more skilled than the person who only does digital negatives or only LF contact prints.

David Aimone, kinda popular on Flickr for LF figure photos, does alt process with digital negatives from LF and small format sources.. He's made some real nice kallitypes toned with gold or pt/pd. The LF images have the LF look, and the small format are mostly with lenses that provide the desired look, like some obscure old MF camera. or a DSLR with the Velvet56 for example. He's putting the work in and not taking shortcuts.

Koichiro Kurita makes 8x10 alt process contact prints AND big enlargements using film internegatives rather than digital negatives. I have no idea how he gets film that big... But his 8x10s are stunning and the big prints a little less so. Perhaps he should use digital negatives...

Peter Langham
30-Jul-2017, 10:19
Not an alt printer here, but I would think Vaughn hit on the real key point here. Each format has its own working pace and flow. Will your work tolerate the change in that flow. I think that will have a bigger impact on your work than any technical issues.

Jim Fitzgerald
30-Jul-2017, 10:38
My workflow (in-camera negatives directly to Pt/pd and also carbon) is part of my whole artistic endeavor from seeing the light, so to speak, to framing the print. No cropping, no burning/dodging...what I put on the film goes into the print. For that reason I am not interested in printing from inkjet negatives

It is just the way I prefer to work. Printing from inkjet negatives satisfies your desires for the what you want in the print. Since one's tools do have an effect on how one works, the images themselves might change depending on your tool for capturing the light. Not just sharpness, tonality, etc, but what and how you photograph. It certainly does for me.

I'm with Vaughn on this subject. For me and my vision and the way I work with 8x10, 11x14, 8x20 and 14x17 cameras that I hand crafted I see no other way to produce my work. I think we are a dying breed as just about every post about Alt. printing I see has some reference to digital negatives. Right or wrong it is up to the artist to decide. Just not for me.

tgtaylor
30-Jul-2017, 11:11
All of my alternative prints are made from 8x10 and 5x7 in-camera negatives. That said I have thousands of negatives shot on 35mm to LF that were not processed for alternative printing. Since it is not practical to go back and reshoot them, one day I will teach myself how to make a digital negative so that I can print them as an alternative process.

Thomas

faberryman
30-Jul-2017, 11:18
I think it depends in large measure how large you wish to print. Without a digital negative, you can only print as large as your largest camera film size. For many of use that would be 4x5.

Alan9940
30-Jul-2017, 12:13
I print pt/pd from both in-camera and digital negatives. I like 'em both, but prints from in-camera negatives somehow look "smoother" than from digital negs. I'm sure that's a poor adjective to use and really doesn't say anything, but it's the kind of thing you'd have to see side-by-side. The one major advantage to digital negs, to me, is that they allow me to print pt/pd from any film format, any digital capture, or even from my phone! A couple of days ago, I made a lovely 5x7 print on Weston Diploma Parchment from an iPhone 6 capture. Without access to a digital negative I couldn't have produced this print. Just sayin...

One word of caution if you decide to pursue the digital negative path...not all methods of generating a digital negative are equal, in my experience. Over the years, I've tried several different methods and "systems" and only a couple have worked well for me. YMMV, of course. I would highly recommend a workshop from someone like Kerik Kouklis to learn how to properly craft a digital negative. This will save oodles of time, IMO.

Jim Andrada
30-Jul-2017, 23:29
@Alan

Have you tried Mark Nelson's system? If so, what did you think of it?

Alan9940
31-Jul-2017, 06:09
@Alan

Have you tried Mark Nelson's system? If so, what did you think of it?

Yes, I've used Mark's system since taking a workshop on it with he and Dick Arentz in 2005. It's a somewhat laborious process to get everything dialed in, but once you've got it you have access to an entire family of process adjustment curves to affect contrast in the final image and, perhaps even more impressive, you can generate what's called a Double Hybrid Curve. This is a single process adjustment curve that enables you to have different contrast level for the shadow end and for the highlights simultaneously! It's rather brilliant IMHO. I would advise that if you have a Mac, go with CC III vs the older II version. The newer version is database driven and much easier to use/understand vs the older spreadsheet driven software.

Edit: I forgot to mention that if you use the Na2 Serial Method, that combined with the family of process adjustment curves results in a very powerful method of control over final results.

sanking
1-Aug-2017, 18:19
Yes, I've used Mark's system since taking a workshop on it with he and Dick Arentz in 2005. It's a somewhat laborious process to get everything dialed in, but once you've got it you have access to an entire family of process adjustment curves to affect contrast in the final image and, perhaps even more impressive, you can generate what's called a Double Hybrid Curve. This is a single process adjustment curve that enables you to have different contrast level for the shadow end and for the highlights simultaneously! It's rather brilliant IMHO. I would advise that if you have a Mac, go with CC III vs the older II version. The newer version is database driven and much easier to use/understand vs the older spreadsheet driven software.

Edit: I forgot to mention that if you use the Na2 Serial Method, that combined with the family of process adjustment curves results in a very powerful method of control over final results.

Should mention that the hybrid curves in Mark Nelson's PDN system came about because he and Dick Arentz were looking for a way to "mimic" the native curve characteristics of pt/pd prints in printing with digital negatives. In digital printing the goal is usually to create files that have equal log spacing since this results in the greatest contrast/separation in the shadows and a more realistic look in the highlights. Those who have printed with pt/pd, especially with a heavy dose of palladium, understand that this process has a very long toe and a highly compressed shoulder. This gives prints that are somewhat lacking in separation in the toe but with a long and beautiful gradation in the highlights. Mark wanted to be able to replicate this very characteristic look with a curve that would be applied to the positive digital file, thus the creation of the hybid and double hybrid curves.

My approach in creating digital images for printing with alternative printing is to calibrate the monitor and digital negative to create a linear work flow, with equal log spacing between all of the steps, and then adjust the image on the monitor to mimic the look I expect to see in the print.

I used PDN for a number of years but switched to QTR for digital negatives in 2007. In spite of the fact that the learning curve with QTR is much steeper ultimately it offers much greater total control than working with the Epson driver. With the QTR driver one is able to control the output of each of the ink channels from 0% to 100%, at each printing point on the X,Y-Axis. This allows the user to control the amount of ink deposited on our negatives from each of the printer nozzles to exactly match the contrast requirements of our process, and to linearize the curve at the printer level, which eliminates the possibility of distorting the image with a correction curve applied on the image itself in Photoshop.

In my work flow there is no loss of image quality in printing carbon transfer and other contact printing alternative processes with digital negatives compared to analog negatives. There are, however, several advantages.

1. The original negative or digital image can be enlarged to virtually any size desired for the final print,
2. The density and curve of the digital negative can be tailored to precisely match the exposure scale of the process and its specific curve requirement, and
3. The image file can be improved by altering contrast in individual areas of the negative and by local dodging and burning so that every print can be made using the same exposure time.

Just bear in mind that making a really good digital negative is a fairly complicated piece of work and regardless of which methodology you choose it will involve a fair amount of effort to make high quality negatives that produce the best contact prints possible.

Sandy