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Thread: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

  1. #1

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    Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    A friend gave me his Epson 3800, and I already have one of my own. I have used mine for both color and B&W printing, using the Advanced Black & White mode for the latter. I've been happy with the results, but may not be as discerning as others. I am thinking of converting the second printer to use the Piezography B&W inks.

    I don't really enjoy the very serious technical side of printing. I currently process using an older CD version of Lightroom on a Windows 7 machine, with an old CRT monitor. No fancy calibration of anything. I get what I like on the screen, and when I print images, the prints look the way I expect them to, so I'm happy. I've honed in on a slight toning of B&W images that I like using the Epson ABW.

    So part of my concern with Piezography is whether it will be too fussy for me. Can I just get the inks, convert the machine, load Quadtone RIP, use the appropriate paper profile and be off to the races? Will I be happier with the results than I am with those from the Epson ABW?

  2. #2

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    You might find these two articles helpful:

    https://shop.inkjetmall.com/blog/ink-on-paper-blog-2/post/the-proof-of-piezography-1471

    https://shop.inkjetmall.com/blog/ink-on-paper-blog-2/post/the-k7-standard-and-monitor-display-systems-1310

    I recommend you download the image provided by the first article. Depending on your monitor, you many not see its 2% changes along the tonal curve (especially at the lower end), but they are present in the image. Print it using the standard EPSON drivers and see what you get. It will also reveal how much resolution you can get when printing the fine lines.

    A 50-step wedge shouldn't be a big deal to print, since 8 bit B&W contains 256 shades (a lot more than just 50), but you might be surprised just how poorly calibrated ordinary profiles are. In fairness, a typical profile has to handle all the colors and gray is the hardest thing to get right. You can find a nice circular 50-step wedge here: http://www.kennethleegallery.com/images/tech/KenLeeBullsEye51.jpg

    You can pay for a sample print from Piezography: send them an image with whatever you like on it. I made a test image containing skin tones, clouds, dark values plus my 50-step wedge and had them print it on several papers. I was impressed that the prints they sent back were all perfect. At the time, they were made on an Epson 3880.

    As far as I know, Piezography profiles are linearized to 128 steps or more. They also provide tools for you to make your own profiles for any paper/ink combination. (You need to purchase a sensitometer to make your own measurements). I have done that in the past but I have settled on one paper and their profiles are so good that it works for me. Like you, this isn't my favorite part of the process.

    After switching to Piezography Pro, I ended up buying a better monitor so that I could see the all the tones in my images which my Macs with Retina display can't discriminate. Your CRT on the other hand, may work just fine.

    For me the compelling issue was being able to print images like this flower - which contains large smooth gradients - without any banding or gaps in the tonal scale.

    Comparing two prints side-by-side, almost anyone can spot the difference but depending on your style of photography and who actually views your prints, the differences you find may or may not be worth the effort.
    Last edited by Ken Lee; 20-Oct-2020 at 06:55.

  3. #3
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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    I can't speak for what might be involved in setting up your printer, etc. but the piezography prints that I have had made by Cone Editions are amazingly beautiful, far richer than what I can produce with my Epson R3000.

  4. #4

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    Thanks Ken and Pieter. I had already read all the stuff on your website about this, ken. Thanks for the additional information. I'm going to hook up the gifted printer sometime in the next week or so to see if it works. If so, I'll probably go for it!

  5. #5

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    Let me add a question that perhaps Ken or someone else can answer.

    Yes, I've printed piezography on a P600 (12-inch max if you allow for a border), and it's good. Hard to judge whether it's better per se, or just to my eye. But I "think" it's better, and that encourages. But I haven't had the benefit of a week at "Inkjet University" to really learn the system, and am really an autodidact here. Not exactly a hindrance, but what I wonder is whether you're printing yourself, or sending off to have professionally printed (aka Cone's op). I've emailed with Richard Boutwell (B+W Mastery site) who has his own linearization methods for Quadtone and uses Cone's inks. There's a lot of promise as much as I can see... but there's a learning curve with it, too. And as I ponder the resurrection and conversion of my P800 to Cone inks, I wonder whether it's worth the trouble. Crew on Luminous Landscape suggests its less compelling than once upon a time. I'm not as convinced as they are that Epson and/or Canon have solved the inkjet problem of (for lack of a technical term) I call "bleah" where the variation in tones comes out looking like pudding and unappetizing. I've used linearization programs like Colorbyte's Imageprint and it prints very, very well... but again with just about anything digitally printed, attribution of just what it is in the chain that made the deciding difference isn't easily done. In every case, I find the more you put into it... i.e. the more willing you are to burn paper and ink to get what you want, the more "you" there is and the rest are simply the tools you have. Were you to expend this effort without the fancy tools and inks... I'm not sure what the difference would be because you (or rhettorically, "one") probably wouldn't be drawn into the idea that "there's more in here than I'm getting out of it... let's try another round".

    The advantage of turning over to a pro shop then is they're already up the learning curve. But then again.... attribution. So Ken (et al), are you printing Piezography yourself, or outshopping? And if the latter, how much back and forth either initially or on-going until you get what you want? In my case, I tend to think that BEFORE outshopping - even if that were the goal - I'd want to print smaller, more locally to have a handle on the actual output. Is this enough of a question to be clear, or elucidate a comment... even "hogwash... you're doing something wrong...."?

    And to be clear... this "what to do in my P800's case" is part of the context of this, and part of my pondering whether to bother with a course of study. The latter is more of a bother as an amateur in terms of having an unrelated actual day job and photography being an avocation rather than a vocation. In any case, appreciate any insights you care to share.

  6. #6

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    I make my own prints. I have settled on one paper and I use one of the standard Piezography profiles. I previously made profiles (it's educational) but no longer do.

    If you need to print on many papers and you enjoy technical effort, you can purchase a spectrophotometer and go to town with linearization tools. As a software developer, it was no vacation for me, so when my spectro drivers became obsolete I stopped doing it altogether.

    The only way to know is to see and compare. You can pay for a sample print from Piezography: send them an image with whatever you like on it. I made a test image containing skin tones, clouds, dark values plus a 50-step wedge and had them print it on several papers. Because I make slightly warm-toned prints, I requested that.

    Print the same image with any other printers/methodologies you like. Choose the one you like best and let us know what you discover please.

    Make sure your test image has lots of smooth gradients, so you can see which system has the least banding. We want linear results, not choppy ones.

    If money is no object, then by all means let someone else do the printing. Let them absorb the costs of time, materials, training, depreciation, maintenance, replacement, etc.

    Because Piezography's instructional materials and technical support are so good, for me final issue was getting monitor brightness low enough to match paper brightness, so that the system became WYSIWYG. Also, because the Piezography Pro system gives 100 X 100 X 100 print color options, it took a while to decide which options I liked best.

  7. #7

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    Yeah.... the monitor. The one I bought years ago ended up with general rather than just photo use. It wasn't the real thing, but good for the day. Need to upgrade that.
    I've used only the default curves, and not gone to the super detailed layer output file level I've seen.... but I think that's the difference in large measure with what Richard Boutwell's doing.

    I agree that you can spend a ton of $ and time trying to kick this forward, and that getting someone else to print starts to crank the numbers. But the inks aren't cheap either. I've used some of Cone's papers to match the default curves.... and there's enough promise there I'm still ambitious that this is the way to go. Real question is about what to do with the P800.... keep using Epson inks or run the software to convert to Cone's. Paul Roark was mixing his own I think - at least for a while, but I've read enough of the problems with that approach that I'm happy with Cone's inks. Just have been adjusting to our new home, setup, learning LF and haven't really done a lot of printing since the move last year. But with winter here shortly, it's what's up next. P600 was easy to convert, but the P800 requires a software jailbreak. More tech and computer time than I really wanted, but I guess I'm not really inclined to do darkroom printing... and though I've read about carbon printing processes is intriguing, there's only so many skills, tools, techniques etc. I can throw at these problems.

    Thanks for your insight and shared experience. May I ask which monitor? There's one that uses a gecko as it's logo I've looked at online for years but not pulled the trigger. And... are you printing in color (with Cone inks) or just referring to the range of Black, Whites and Grays as "color" (metaphorically)?

  8. #8

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    Quote Originally Posted by roscoetuff-Skip Mersereau View Post
    Thanks for your insight and shared experience. May I ask which monitor? There's one that uses a gecko as it's logo I've looked at online for years but not pulled the trigger. And... are you printing in color (with Cone inks) or just referring to the range of Black, Whites and Grays as "color" (metaphorically)?
    I print in monochrome only.

    Fed up with wasting time and materials with my 2017 iMac monitor, I followed Piezography's recommendation and got a 24-inch EIZO. It certainly shows better color fidelity and range and can built-in calibrate itself all the way down to 60 or 80 candles (can't remember) which I find important because I make my prints to match typical home illumination, not the bright spot lighting we see in some galleries.

    Perhaps at somewhere like B&H in New York, one can walk around, compare monitors and make an even better choice. As things are improving all the time (in this domain anyhow) advice soon becomes obsolete. There are probably several newer and better models than mine from EIZO or NEC, the two vendors I'm aware of.

    Those Vermonters are among the most knowledgeable folks I've encountered. Frankly I'd hesitate to disregard their advice on any topic.

  9. #9

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    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    I used the original Piezography back in the late nineties or early 2000. I used Epson 3000 still have the soft wear and extra ink. I loved it back then. I already knew how to print in a darkroom. so the monitor matching the picture wasn't so necessary. I taught myself how to adjust the tone similar to darkroom. I would make 1 print and adjust it kind of like dodging and burning. I was very impressed at how well the final images looked. I'm sure they have advanced a lot since I used it but it was very good back then so I'm sure it's improved and is even better.

  10. #10

    Re: Piezography: Talk me into/out of it

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Lee View Post
    I print in monochrome only.
    Ken, since many of us have made use of your PS "toning tutorials" over the years, that was an immediate question I had. I did a quick recce of the Cone website and saw that there were several toning presets with different values of warmth/coolness for either shadows or highlights, but didn't know if there was a way to leverage them to emulate precisely what you've been able to create digitally. (If it sounds as if I'm agitating for you to outline your piezographic workflow, well, you've already shown that you're willing to work for free...)

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