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Thread: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

  1. #11

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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    Inkjet prints do not have a wider tonal range. In fact, most people print them with more narrow range. Masking is another simple darkroom process which was incorporated into the digital imaging process. I have been doing it for 60+ years.

    I have seen quite a few prints made by people who claim they can match a platinum print.They shut up when their print is laid beside a good Pt/Pd print.
    This question was brought up at a workshop a few years ago where Stephen Johnson and I were both making presentations. He told the group he couldn't match my prints and if they wanted to make a print like mine they would have to learn the processes I use. His expertise is enough for me and I certainly appreciated his remarks. If he can't match my prints on a computer, I doubt seriously that anyone can.
    Oh, please. I do my best to give everyone that likes darkroom prints the respect they deserve. Everyone is welcome to like what they want. However, every time we have one of these conversations it always boils down to a bunch of bullies who insist that darkroom prints are great and inkjet is crap. It's tiresome and it destroys community.

    Just a month or two ago it was claimed that a darkroom print was the original, "photographic" process. I had to remind people that it wasn't, that other processes we now call "alternate" were the originals. In fact, a few of them are far superior to darkroom printing; platinum, carbon and gravure, easily. You want a really dark black? Get yourself some black ink... and learn how to ink a plate. OTOH, if you have the right RIP, paper and printer, you can also slow the printer down enough to puddle the ink on the paper and get any kind of black you want. Of course, a solid black is not the only thing a print requires. I think its probably the least important factor, but that's just my opinion.

    I may not have been doing this for 60 years, its only been 53; many years of my life in the dark. I have printed professionally since the early 1980's. At one point, my work hung right next to Ansel's in the window at Photography West in Carmel. I have done both darkroom and inkjet at the museum quality level. I have done a pile of different alt processes as well, altho' some just for a few quick tests. In fact, when I discovered platinum in the mid 80's, I never wanted to go back to the darkroom again. That's my personal preference. In fact, for the kind of work that I want to do its either alt process or inkjet. You couldn't make the kind of print I want to make, and that I do regularly, in a darkroom. Not even close.

    Stephen Johnson is by no means the expert you imagine. I don't need to diss anyone, him included, so we can leave it at that. Inkjets easily have a wider tonal range (at least one and a half times), and much smoother tonal shifts between zones. Given the right materials and expertise, they are richer and more velvety than anything that can be accomplished with silver bromide paper. And there's no distracting gloss. And yes, I have one image where I have made an inkjet look exactly like the platinum print, sitting there side by side, regardless of Mr. Johnson. You wouldn't know the difference except that the inkjet has more separation in the shadows.

    Now, if what you want is something that looks just like a darkroom print, by all means engage in that kind of printing. And be happy. And the lot of you should stop trying to bully everyone.

    Lenny
    EigerStudios
    Museum Quality Drum Scanning and Printing

  2. #12

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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    I was pretty impressed with the results I obtained on a friend's scan using a 3880 + Museo Silver Rag + QTR. I used the same neutral black for the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights. If I no longer had a darkroom, I could be pretty pleased with the black and white photos that I could achieve with this setup.

  3. #13

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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    These things make me laugh! inkjet is good and is nice to print in a endless array of papers, but i tend to like more a darkroom print...

    i have the opinion that if you have the time and dedication you will get good results with both processes... at least i do

    i just like being more in the darkroom and prefer silver prints, and i think most people do when they see a good one, which is a bit rare... regarding tonal range...i never saw a wider tonal range in a digital print but itīs easier to master a wider tonal range technique in photoshop than in darkroom...

    cheers

  4. #14
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    I print both, visually they can both be stunning.

    For me the difference is the way the image is within the emulsion on silver and the way it sits on top for inkjet.
    This difference is about as close a way for me to determine which is which, and it is so subtle that I am fooled many times.

    I have had an change of heart lately on my preferred workflow, today I am making digital silver negatives and multiple printing gum over pt pd. This may be a fad for me but the resulting
    prints far outstrip the same silver darkroom prints aesthetically for me... The mixing of two alternative processes by contacting film generated directly from the source file is mind blowing.
    I feel the warmth of the palladium for the main negative with the coolness of the K negative is the perfect way to print.
    By being able to control the Channels , there are 10 , 20 if you include inverting , is a creative tool that has been only in the hands of very few creative printmakers.
    Sam Wang out of Clemson comes to mind, his work with multiple negs generated from the different channels and then creatively matched to the processes he is combining , inspired me
    to move in this direction.
    We are on a cusp, where the young students in all our schools are starting to make separations from their digital files and applying them to paper. We are in for an incredible ride I believe
    with different print options, and as well creative thinking by young minds who's heads are not up their arses, YET, and we will see some tremendous printmaking. this has only just begun.

    I have and always will be a silver gelatin darkroom printer but now there is a new team in town and I have switched sides for awhile. I try not to stick my head up my arse and ignore the possibilities.

  5. #15
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    These days, the platinum print being compared to an inkjet print would probably be derived from an inkjet negative....

    Inkjet and silver are two different things. If you like one more than the other, that's great. I like that silver prints won't be ruined by water. A person with good inkjet and photoshop skills can make a nice print. Someone with good darkroom skills can make a nice print. I have a preference for historical silver and alt process options, but I've also been pleased with prints from my inkjet printer. I make some non-glossy prints on it once in a while when I want something toned a particular color, or a negative needs some curves that are impractical in the darkroom.

  6. #16
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    I have a large body of work that I've printed both ways. I worked on the silver prints for about ten years, and then learned the Piezography process in order to make a hand-bound artist's book. The book project became so difficult I abandoned it, but, I continued with the Piezography printing, partly because my favorite silver materials were discontinued.

    And also because the piezo prints were among the best black and white prints of any kind I've ever made. Or ever seen, for that matter.

    I was using a version of piezography called piezo-tone, now long-discontinued, which uses 4 monochrome carbon inks, and can only print on matte-finish papers. I haven't printed with the current 6 and 7 ink version that can also print on gloss baryta-finished papers. When I wanted a gloss finish I had to varnish with an air-brush. Those results were incredible, but tedious and really easy to mess up.

    Using the old versions of the inks, at least half the time I preferred the ink print to my original silver print. In the remaining cases, sometimes I preferred the silver print, other times it was a toss-up ... the prints were just different and I liked them in different ways. A lot of this is about surface, and some of it is about d-max. My prints on Fortezo had much deeper blacks than my ink prints on Hahnemuhle Photo-rag. Unless I varnished the print—a process that I didn't perfect enough to use in a final edition.

    I suspect my silver prints would have a very hard time competing with the newer inks on gloss papers. I'm currently working in color, and don't have a piezo setup. My color inkjet prints on papers like Harman/Hahnemuhle gloss baryta and Canson Infinity Baryta look better than any wet darkroom print I've seen (I used to work in a custom lab, so I've seen a few). But that's not as tough a challenge ... I've never loved the look of c-prints or ciba.

  7. #17

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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Jones View Post
    My best analog [prints certainly beat any of my digital prints, but digital editing and the convenience of accurate reprinting certainly make up for the difference.
    I am with you about the benefits of digital. I could never hope to keep up with wet prints with the production I do. Another benefit from digital is I can produce hand printed artists' books easily. Back in the day I had to dry, mount 2 prints back to back to make a page for a book. double sided inkjet paper is a real convenience for books.

  8. #18

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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tyler Boley View Post
    few people have seen what inkjet can really do, so these discussions tend to be uninformed and based on opinion. Furthermore,what criteria is used for "best"? That will also be subjective and generally just an opinion.
    Sure, it is hard to pin down. Just asking for experience with your own work or with what you have seen.

  9. #19

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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    I was pretty impressed with the results I obtained on a friend's scan using a 3880 + Museo Silver Rag + QTR. I used the same neutral black for the shadows, mid-tones, and highlights. If I no longer had a darkroom, I could be pretty pleased with the black and white photos that I could achieve with this setup.
    The Museo rag has a nice surface look. Trouble with it is it is too delicate. But that is another topic for inkjet vs wet prints. Matte papers esp for inkjet are delicate.

    When I speak of delicate I am talking about having a printer mar the paper just from the feed rollers or running a fingernail over the surface lightly and marring it. I use Hahn Fine Art Baryta cause it is one of the toughest surfaces of any of the Baryta papers I've used. I am kind of klutzy, so I don't go in for delicate papers. I don't know if FAB has the best potential for dense blacks. It is very good in any case. Matte inkjet will never equal wet prints when it comes to being tough. But matte inkjet do produce some nice looks if you frame them quick before you scuff them.

    If you age / cure your pigment RC inkjets, say 6 months, they are pretty impervious to water as well. When I tested them against dye transfer prints the RC inkjet were still fine after 24 hours in water. The DT's lost lots of dye in half that time. Probably only of interest if you get a flood. Fine art semi gloss inkjets seem to be very water sensitive when it comes to damage. Sometimes the surface coating mars up from the water. Water resistance is an area where wet prints naturally excel.

  10. #20
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Do your best BW inkjets matched or surpass your best BW wet prints?

    I printed silver exclusively for decades. I started printing digitally to help make some decent prints out of some problem negs that didn't print well with silver. When I started printing digitally my target was my best silver prints. It took me a few years of dedicated effort to achieve this but I did. Now I print primarily in digital and make a silver print if some collector requests it or I just feel like getting my fingers wet. It is hard to make a traditional enlarged silver print to match the digital. I can make a great silver print but it will not match a great ink print. They are very different beasts. I just don't have the same level of control printing optically. So I think the future of my silver printing will be headed largely to creating digital negatives or contact printing on silver-best of both worlds.

    FWIW.....Why does anyone care if their finished prints are waterproof? What are you doing with your prints that they need that? I have never had a need for a waterproof finished print of any kind, ink or silver.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    at age 68
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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