View Full Version : Help with a digital negative from and Epson
Bruce E. Rathbun
I am in need of some advice on digital negatives from an inkjet printer. There is an image that I retouched and need a negative output. I have access to an Epson 1280. I would like to make a negative for contact printing on traditional silver paper. The negative would be one 8"x10" and one 5"x7". Here is the question. I need to have this done by the end of the week. Is it possible to output the negative myself without too much hassle and get good results? I have never attempted a digital negative this way so I would like some help. What type of media would I need? If this is too much of a big deal for now I can have a professional lab in town output the negative or the injet prints. I did attempt to make the prints but for now the printer is set for color output. The black and white output does not look as good as I would like. Any thoughts?
What sort of final process are you printing with this negative? If it is an alternative process sort of print on watercolor paper, you're probably in good shape. If you are printing in silver gelatin, then you might want to think about an imagesetter negative. In any case, with such a short time fuse, you are going to have to depend on the work of others when it comes to such things as correction curves. I doubt you have time to do this whole thing from scratch. I recommend looking at Dan Burkholder's website here:
Here is one suggestion. I intend to follow this at some point in the future, when I print Platinum this way. I have not tried it, but it makes sense to me.
In Photoshop, make a step wedge that goes from 0 to 100% in steps of 10% each. Print it on your transparency material, using your 1280. Make sure you leave some blank area along the side. This corresponds to the "blank film edge" on a piece of film.
In the darkroom, contact print that step wedge as a test strip on number 2 paper. In other words, determine just how much exposure is necessary to get Zone 0 along the blank area, and no more.
Now look at how the step wedge printed out: If you can see all the steps in the step wedge, and they run from Zone 0 to 9, then number 2 paper is perfect. If they all look soft, then your step wedge is too soft. If you can't see all 9 zones, then your step wedge is too contrasty. I would suggest that you stick with number 2 paper to make things simple.
In Photoshop, you can adjust the contrast of your step wedge, so that it prints out perfectly on number 2 paper. Once you know how to do that, you can perform the same correction to any image you want to print. That is, as long as it's the same transparency material, the same printer, the same number 2 paper, the same developer, etc.
For an image that contains a step wedge, click here (http://www.kenleegallery.com/calibrate.html" target="_blank)
After doing some research it seems that unless you are using the Epson 2200 or an imagesetter there is a good chance you will be disappointed with your results on silver paper. The 1280 is a great printer, but the majority of negatives made with the 1280 for silver gelatin are reputed to be quite grainy. If you didn't have the deadline I would suggest waiting for the Epson R800: its 1.5 picoliter drop size should make for digital negatives close to the quality from an imagesetter. Only caveat is that it is a letter size printer and can't handle over 8.5x11.
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