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Thread: Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jun 2000

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    I have recently read the article in the latest edition of View Camera by George DeWolfe, "Piezography Quadtone Printmaking and the Future of Black-and-White Pho tography: One Man's View". I will ask a couple of questions based on the assump tion that most people who contribute to this forum have read or will read the ab ove mentioned article.

    1. Mr. DeWolfe states that, "the combination of scanned high quality black-and-w hite negatives and prints, a dependable driver, a high resolution printer driver , the Piezography BW Quadtone Inkset and archival papers have enabled us to prod uce prints from an inkjet printer of higher quality than we traditionaly produce d with silver and platinum media". I have only seen such prints reproduced in ma gazines. Has anyone on this forum seen such prints and if so, give an objective comparison to silver or platinum. 2. I am fairly literate about the components used in his specific workflow to output a print. My question to anyone who has experience with the hardware and software, what is the cost for these components minus the computer ? I have been working with 4x5 and 8x10 for several years and while I enjoy the darkroom, I have no qualms about migrating to just shooting and processing film and going digital for prints. I know these issues have been discussed before, but in light of this article and recent articles about Huntington Witherill usin g medium format negs and digitally "remastering" them into 16x20 contact negs ma ybe there is some fresh insight from the group that will help me and others to d ecide if and when to make the jump. Thanks for any and all responses.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 1999

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    Why would you assume that I have read the article. Where is it to be found?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    So. California

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    Very good Dan, I agree with you 100%. Pat

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Mar 2001

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    Jim, I've had some experience with quadtone printing, and a lot of experience with Photoshop. Here are my thoughts.

    Clearly, digital printing is the wave of the future. In the last five years the jumps in technology have been astounding--similar to the technology jumps that happen in wartime--and the reason is that digital photographic printing is a billion-dollar industry being supported by huge dollars in R&D by many world-class companies like Epson and Kodak and Fuji.

    So, even if the chemistry v. digital print quality considerations at this point are controversial, it is very likely that digital printing will surpass B&W darkroom printing very soon in every aspect. The quadtone prints I've made have been totally amazing, except in the blacks-- that's the last major hurdle, and with the new papers out there, this problem is being solved as we speak. And, those issues aside, as a darkroom printer-turned-digital-printer, I can tell you that Photoshop gives you creative control over your prints in a way that darkroom printers only dream about.

    For example, imagine being able to control contrast locally over every square centimeter of your print. Increase contrast here by 10%, here by 12%, in this large area by 5%, but decrease contrast over here by 40%, and you can do an infinte number of these changes. Darken here, lighten here (in the middle of the area you just darkened), etc., etc., with absolute control and repeatability and reversibility at any point.

    And so, here's my real point, and recommendation. Digital printing requires just as much skill as darkroom printing. If you want to be a master digital printer, you'll have to spend years on Photoshop, just the way you did in the darkroom. I know, to a novice, Photoshop looks easy, but it is actually one of the most sophisticated programs ever developed for computers, and its depth is incredible. Once you learn the basic concepts like levels and curves and dodging and burning, then you go on to masking and adjustment layers (which make every change you make infinitely repeatable and reversible), and finally when you get really sophisticated you start getting geeky about the numbers, learning how to understand the numerical data that Photoshop gives you for every pixel in your image. Then you can perfectly control your black point, white point, highlight detail, zone 1.5 shadow detail, and the like.

    Similarly to darkroom printing, there are thousands of hackers out there who think they know what they're doing (and who don't know little they know), and there are a handful of real experts who are few and far between. And you can see a HUGE difference in the quality of their prints.

    So, my suggestion is, go out and get a Mac and start learning about Photoshop. Then when the printers come fully up to speed in the next couple of years, you'll already be on top of it.


    p.s.: if you're interested, check out my work at

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2001

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    Jim, to answer your question about costs, the printer that DeWolfe uses, which I also use, is an Epson 1160, which nowadays costs less than $500. Add the inksets and workflow software and other stuff and (independently of the computer itself) you'd be up and printing for about $700 or so.

  6. #6

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    I have seen some of Hunter's work with prints from digitally enlarged negs and there is no difference between them and normally enlarged or contact printed prints. They were superb. I also collect Lenswork's images produced using digitally enlarged negs. I can't tell them from the real thing. I have seen some prints from the digital platform using Epson printers with quadtone inks and really nice art papers and they are beautiful. I didn't see any wet darkroom prints to compare with them but I suspect the silver print would look as good. The blacks were superb and the highlights were pure. James

  7. #7

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    The article is in the July/August edition of View Camera magazine.

    For more information a Piezography, see the following website:

    The original Piezography system works on EPSON 760, 800, 850, 860, 980, 1160, 1200, 1520, and 3000 desktop printers. Some of these can be purchased for about $300. The cost of the software, plus an initial supply of 4 - 4oz. bottles of ink (called the continuous ink supply system) is about $665 for the Epson 1160. Refills are about $260 for the 4 bottles of ink. Therefore you are paying about $405 one time charge for the software. Cartridge ink supplies are also available, but more expensive if you use a lot of ink.

    The new PiezographyBW Pro24 system is $2,130 for the software (plus the cost of the ink) and requires the Epson 7000, a very expensive printer. As it turns out, the biggest difference in the qualities between Epson printers is the paper transport mechanism of the printers.

    Piezography products can be purchased at:

    Piezography (perhaps unlike the other system mentioned above) has excellent technical support. In addition they have a users discussion web site where you can hear about all the successes and the problems people have had with the system.

  8. #8

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    With due respect to Chris Jordan, a PC works fine with Photoshop and Piezography. In fact, at this particular time, a PC is needed for the high end PiezographyBW Pro24 system.

  9. #9

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag

    Jim, I did read the article and I have a few observations/questions:

    1.- Is De Wolfe being paid by these manufactures and/or being given special perks (Toner, printer, etc)? This reminds me of John Sexton and Tmax, he always praised Tmax, even at the beguining when everybody was having a hard time with it, I am sure it had to do with Kodak providing him with oodles of film to test and use, I am also sure him, being the expert that he is, could probably make his beautiful prints with just about any film you gave him. Is all a matter of who is making the print, not really what the medium is.

    2.- De Wolf mentions "if Ansel Adams were still alive he would be into this big time, big time". Yeah right! here you would have a 70 or 80's something who is a master in the darkroom trying to learn photoshop, LOL.......Like Chris said, Photoshop is no childs play, I just don't see Ansel Adams doing that, but what really pisses me off and makes me wary is that he is trying to associate Adams's name to this process to convert the millions of photographers who try to emulate Adams. If the technology is as astounding as he wants to make us beleive, then let it stand on it's own, forget Adams or any other famous photographer!

    3.- Every time I hear about these new printers, procesess, etc. I wait for about 4 or 5 months to check it out, everytime I have been disapointed with the so called "just like a negative" print. So far nobody has been able to show me a digital printed image that compares to an 8x10 contact print! De Wolfe states that what he saw in piezography is better than any contact platimum print, well since I have not seen one of these prints I will give him the benefit of the doubt and will reserve my judgement until then, but so far I am pretty sceptical about this claim. At this point I like to clarify I am not ingonrant in this subject, I happen to have an acquaintance with Dan Burkholder, who is one of the premier digital/platimum printers and I even have purchased some of his prints. I bought these prints because of their beauty and artistry, but if I was going to be brutally honest, not even his digitally enlarged negatives compare to a real LF negative. Who knows, as Chris said maybe in the not so distant future they will be.

    In the end I think it does not really matter wether it is as good or better than traditional printing, I really think what matters is the image produced, and this is up to the artist not to how the image was produced. To me is more satisfying working on the darkroom, and the magic of seeing the image appear still exites me after all this time. Some people say they are glad not to have to work with the smelly chemistry etc, me I found the entire digital process boring, and "sterile". So is a matter of choice and enjoyment, I enjoy the darkroom, others enjoy the "lightroom". One thing is for sure both mediums require a long learning curve and at this stage of my life I have learned not to second guess myself wheter I would be better off doing it digital, I am confident in my abilities and happy with the results I get.

  10. #10

    Questions regarding George DeWolfe in View Camera mag


    I doubt that Mr De Wolfe is being paid or subsidized in any way. The company that owns the Piezography system is Cone Editions Press, Ltd. and is a fairly small company that markets mostly to professionals. De Wolfe is not the first person to write a favorable article about this technology.

    The De Wolfe article is available from the following website:

    If you want an unbiased view of Piezography, the Piezography Users Discussion Group is a good place to start:

    The general consensus of the user discussion group is that the blacks are not quite up to silver capabilities. The Epson printers tend to have problems because Piezography stretches their capabilities beyond what they were designed to do (except the Epson 7000 which costs an arm and a leg). Jon Cone estimates that 1 in 3 Epson printers will have to returned because they will not work properly with Piezography. Fortunately, Epson has a very generous return policy. There are also issues relating to lack of cold tone inks (supposedly coming soon) and the printers constantly having ink clogging problems (the more archival the ink, the more it is likely to clog).

    The biggest issue for amateurs and "starving artists" is the cost. In order to get the kind of quality that matches silver, you need a high quality film scan that can cost about $50 each from an image service. High quality film scanners for 120 are becoming available in the $3000 price range, but it is too early to tell if they can perform as well as a $15K drum scanner. The problem gets worse for LF film scans.

    All that being said, there is a tremendous opportunity here as the technology improves and the cost comes down.

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