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Thread: Digital and/or conventional printing options

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
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    185

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    The last issue of View Camera has a profile of the work of David Fokos. Although it was the superb visualisation and images that initially attracted me, I am eq ually interested in the technical aspects of how his prints are produced. He pro duces an 8x10 negative through conventional means, which is then drum scanned an d printed on a LightJet 5000 - see this for the results, although Im not sure that my monitor do es justice to the pictures.

    This article made me think again about a question I asked on this forum earl ier this year. Unfortunately even contact printing 4x5 has turned out not to be a viable option for me, although I do control everything up the processed negati ve. In the absence of being able to set up a conventional darkroom for printing, is the best option to get a good quality scanner and printer to "proof" images (such as the Powerlook / Epson 3000 combination mentioned by a poster to the pre vious thread)? For outstanding images, I suppose I could then choose to get a co nventional custom print prepared by a lab, or alternatively try something like t he approach taken by Mr Fokos - is his approach viable for the average LF "serio us amateur" photographer, such as myself? Or is the cost of his approach prohibi tive?

    I would really appreciate the advice of those who understand the practical reali ties, quality differences and costs of the various options. I dont live in an E nglish speaking country, and it is nigh impossible to chat through the options w ith a lab / bureau.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
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    185

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    Drat ; this is the link to Mr Fokos' work.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
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    38

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    FW: All of my prints are digital these days. I shoot only color transparencies, in 4x5. The film is developed at my local "pro" lab, then I send it off to the printer. A good digital printer needs a high- resolution drum scan. This kind of scanner, and the accompanying computer hardware, is cost-prohibitive for all but the most well-heeled among us. There are a number of good labs in the US that do Lightjet prints that won't cost you a fortune. If you'd like links to some, let me know and I'll send them to you privately.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 1999
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    69

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    John and others,

    Might it be worth setting up a "digital labs" chart/thread/section/link-list on this web site, listing good vendors for scanning and digital printing? After all, we're not shy about announcing it when we have a good experience with F Stops Here, or Darkroom Innovations, or Quality Camera, or Badger Graphics. It seems that for some years to come (that is until home scanners and printers equal drum scanners and LightJets!) many users of this site will be wanting to have superb (i.e., better than home-quality) output of at least some of their photographs.

    Just a thought.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 1997
    Posts
    1,227

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    You can't even set up for simple 4x5 contact prints? A ceiling light, two or three small trays (or pie plates) and a sink for rinsing is too much to set up? You can even get by without a normal sink as long as you have someplace to get & dump water. It is a lot simpler and less expensive than digital.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
    Posts
    38

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    I have been maintaining a list for a while now. Here's what I have: Bruce Bennett labs, http://www.brucebennett.com/ Calypso Imaging, http://www.calypsoinc.com/ Color Folio, http://www.colorfolio.com/ Evercolor Fine Art, http://www.evercolor.com/ FinePrint, http://www.fineprint.org/ West Coast Imaging, http://www.westcoastimaging.com/ and the person I use, Bill Nordstrom, who doesn't have a web site but who you can contact by email at LasLight@aol.com.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 1999
    Posts
    69

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    Excellent list! I've also looked at the www.nancyscans.com website and they may have potential too.

    One thing interesting to me was that the View Camera photos by David Fokos were printed on color paper. After seeing Bill Nordstrom's ad in View Camera, I talked to him (he's a leader in the field, I understand) about a year ago, asking whether I could get a "high- quality black-and-white print" that would look like a darkroom- generated print. He said that color shifts could be a problem for b&w traditionalists (probably like the shifts on one-hour-lab prints of XP2 or T400CN) and thus I believe he primarily worked with color negs. I don't know if that situation is changed--with any of the labs listed here--but I personally did not find the tonality of the Fokos pictures in View Camera (which were printed on color paper) objectionable; they were in fact rather pleasing in a Michael Kenna sort of way. So when inquiring at these labs, that might be something to keep in mind: asking what's involved in printing monochrome negscans on color paper (if indeed LightJets don't do well on traditional b&w paper). Maybe some of the labs can provide samples on request? I'd even pay a few bucks for such samples, in light of the high costs at stake. . . .

  8. #8

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    LightJets are color - and wonderful color - prints. You should not try to do black & white with color materials.

    A better way to approach this might be to take a look at Dan Burkholder's book "Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing". His approach is similar to Mr. Fokos's, but he stays B&W. His website is www.danburkholder.com. He will also be teaching a 5-day class at ICP in NY in July. If I can work around the camp's bus schedule, I'll be there.

    Rich

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 1999
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    69

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    Rich, I agree that Dan Burkholder is on to something good, and he did indeed literally write the book on making large negatives. But unlike darkroom prints, LightJet prints are not subject to optical limitations during enlargement (and to sizes as large as 48x96, should you REALLY like your photos!), and I suspect that many photographers, galleries, and print buyers would be more than satisfied with the kind of quality that David Fokos got using LightJet with b&w negs.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Posts
    454

    Digital and/or conventional printing options

    I bought Burkholder's book last month. Even with degrees in engineering and physics and 48 years experience in the darkroom, I don't understand hardly any of it.

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