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Thread: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

  1. #1
    Brent
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    Aug 2010
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    wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Hi to Everyone.

    I sure could use some insight and suggestions. I havenít practiced any serious large format black and white photography for a long time and much has changed since then. So Iím at a crossroad and I'm unsure of what direction to take. I could rebuild a darkroom and continue with traditional prints. A pain to build, but a simple if messy process once done. I never had a big love affair with being in a darkroom but the Illford Galerie FB prints were wonderful and worth all the effort. They have been hanging for 30 years and still look at good as the day I made them. Or I could get a Epson 750 scanner, ( or maybe drum scanned? ) and then print on a Epson 3880 using their inks, at least for now. Itís very temping and a lot easier than building another darkroom. There is no doubt that the computer gives one vastly more control, but in the end itís the quality of the print that matters. Will the inkjet route produce prints of equal tonal scale and subtle gradation? I think this can be loaded question, but some informed opinions would be apprecated. I live in Oakland, Ca. If anyone knows of some really good inkjets that are hanging around here please let me know. Seeing them might be a helpful. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Yes.

  3. #3

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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Brent, as you suggest take a critical look at the best of both wet and inkjet prints to discern what is achievable; then understand that the great skill and craftmanship displayed in those prints took some number of years with sweat to make it happen.

    I'm happy doing both wet and inkjet work.

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

  4. #4

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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Jensen View Post
    but in the end it’s the quality of the print that matters.
    Define quality. I would argue that a "wet print" has an inherent quality of being a wet print that sets it apart from a digital print (apart, not superior) Similarly, an oil painting would be distinct from a genuine reproduction of an oil painting created by computer. Both would no doubt take a great deal of toil and effort to create, but they're not the same just because they may end up looking the same.

  5. #5
    Octogenarian
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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    I use the combination of Epson V750 scanner and 3880 printer.

    After wet printing in a darkroom for more than 60 years, I can honestly say that the 16x20 inkjet prints I am producing are more pleasing to my eye than any of my 16x20 wet prints.

    I know that's not saying much for my darkroom skills.

    It was a steep learning curve, but learning to use Photoshop has enabled me to make corrections and improvements that were difficult (or impossible) to do in the darkroom.

  6. #6
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Quote Originally Posted by Gem Singer View Post
    I can honestly say that the 16x20 inkjet prints I am producing are more pleasing to my eye than any of my 16x20 wet prints.
    May I suggest some new glasses, (tongue firmly in cheek)

    Cheers


    Real photographs are born wet !
    www.steve-sherman.com

  7. #7
    Octogenarian
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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Steve,

    I don't wear glasses (perhaps that's the problem).

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    Both methods are acquired skills, but unless you need to make special enlarged negatives for carbon or platinum printing, it is extraordinarily difficult to match a good
    darkroom print digitally - in other words, generally, no, no,no. Tonality suffers, detail
    suffers, just ain't the real deal. Large format films are better than ever, paper is better
    than ever before, serious darkroom equipment is cheap. But I guess it all depends if
    you prefers a hands-on craft or sitting on your ass punching buttons (which I'm obviously doing now, but never when printing). Of course, all sorts of folks will immediately pounce on me because I've invaded a digital thread, but I've yet to see
    the work of anyone shy of serious prepress equipment in the seven-figure range who
    can control an inkjet like an ordinary silver gelatin darkroom print made with a few
    hundred bucks of investment.

  9. #9

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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    What is often left out of these discussions is the fact that scanners can't record nearly as much of a negs detail as an enlarger paper, especially high contrast negs that weren't made with scanning in mind. Just my experience using epsons, drum scanners and enlargers. I have lots of negs that I'd love to make prints of but they've got either scratches, tons of dust, or blemishes. Scanners just can't get the high and low density details. Am I wrong?
    That said I've seen some really nice prints made both ways but never two of the same neg side by side.
    Last edited by vinny; 27-Aug-2010 at 16:50. Reason: Oops

  10. #10
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    Re: wet darkroom vs. inkjet

    "...in the end it’s the quality of the print that matters. Will the inkjet route produce prints of equal tonal scale and subtle gradation? "

    Yes.

    Are "equal tonal scale and subtle gradation" the only important criteria ?

    No.

    "Seeing them might be a helpful."

    If you tell us where you live, perhaps someone can show you some prints of either kind, or point you to a location where they can be seen.

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