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Thread: Digital Prints - Horrors

  1. #1

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    Digital Prints - Horrors

    Horror: “Nothing to do with halloween”,

    My first inkjet prints from 4x5 drumscans and D800 are frankly terrible vs Chromira prints.

    Lab suggested Epson pigment printer on thick exhibition matte paper.

    The results are what I would call “dead dull”, nothing pops as with normal prints, though color gamut is perhaps wider. The images somehow lose luminosity.

    Questions: is it possible to get great looking inkjet prints from 4x5 drumscans or should I always default to Chromira prints? And what about print output with digital camera files? 200mb tif files, printed at 360 dpi. On close inspection, details are there but the images lose brightness and punch as compared to my screen. What can be done to maximize image impact from inkjet printers without resorting to over saturation or pushing contrast?

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Laser prints, whether Chromira or Lightjet or Lambda etc use laser light to expose standard chromogenic papers, just like optical enlargers do, but via a different workflow (scanning), and then are chemically processed in exactly the same manner (RA4 style chemistry). These kinds of prints use color-coupler dyes, which are basically transparent, so often do seem to have more "life" or inner glow to them. Inkjets use relatively opaque inks instead, so the look is inherently different, and the blacks in particular tend to be irregular. The question of gamut is more involved, but often misunderstood in such contexts; but inkjet actually has a more limited gamut. A lot depends on what exact film you start with, and the skill level of the scanning and print equipment operator. You might want to experiment with more than one lab to see who does it best relative to your own expectations.

    But you mention a whole other variable : your choice of matte paper. That never has as much depth of hue or density; it's not supposed to. It's intended to look distinctly flatter than glossy paper.

    Computer screens are backlit, much like an old fashioned slide show - so not related to either option. You'd need to have a actual transparent image made by a Chromira or Lightjet machine and then mount it onto a big light box to get an equivalent effect. Ordinary prints are REFLECTED light images.

  3. #3

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Inkjet prints can be superb. It requires skill in scanning, editing and printing.

  4. #4

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    And probably glossy or lustre paper to get the kind of saturation you seem to be looking for. Try it and see. Inkjet prints on matte papers can be quite beautiful, but they won't be at all "snappy" or contrasty.

  5. #5

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    I never had a chance to see pleasant color inkjet print on matte. But sometimes this is a way to go with bw, using duotone and structured surface paper.

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    I prefer my big TV for viewing any digital image

    I used to stream Flickr slideshow on Digi Projector to my walls, when I was in wheelchair, I think that made Ben Horne angry

    B&W preferably

    as counterpoint it is very easy to make 14X36" positive X-Ray or real film and display them on my two 16X48" Acculite bought for $20, the guy excitedly loaded them into my van as I could not

  7. #7
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    But you mention a whole other variable : your choice of matte paper. That never has as much depth of hue or density; it's not supposed to. It's intended to look distinctly flatter than glossy paper.

    Computer screens are backlit, much like an old fashioned slide show - so not related to either option. You'd need to have a actual transparent image made by a Chromira or Lightjet machine and then mount it onto a big light box to get an equivalent effect. Ordinary prints are REFLECTED light images.
    What Drew said. Before you draw conclusions about inkjet, try some glossy papers. They still won't look like a screen, but they might provide enough of the brilliance you're looking for.

  8. #8

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Printing on an InkJet is not a one push of a button process.
    Like anything, it requires certain skills and experience to get the expected(great) results consistently.
    On the technical part it requires an image editing tool (PS or such) and accurate ICC profiles for both monitor and given paper\ink combination (familiarity with digital color managed workflow is assumed).
    With everything dialed-in, on certain glossy papers it is possible to match and maybe even exceed visual qualities of a (great) print from a Lightjet made on Fuji Supergloss Crystal Archival.
    Some images may look better on matte, others on glossy or semi-Gloss papers. Printing on matte usually requires more twiking than on on glossy. Not every image "work" on matte papers or not as visually appealing as on glossy.
    There is nothing wrong with adjusting Color Balance, Hue, Saturation and Tones of a digital image (scan or digicam capture) to get the print look the way you want it to look, it is rather a required part of printmaking process.
    And a short overview from a master : https://player.vimeo.com/video/124162553?h=794f051b3b. I have seen prints made by Charles and they look spectacular. He used to offer printmaking workshops in the past.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Any color photographic medium can be made beautiful in the right hands, depending on the specific image itself as well as the skill level and equipment of the printmaker.

    But in this case, the OP was suggesting a particular print look most approximating the kind of vibrancy felt with a backlit image. Inket inks are inherently opaque. So the best result shy of an actual transparent enlargement, itself backlit, would be on Fuji Supergloss medium via, in his case, a commercial lab using Lightjet or Chromira, etc. I print Supergloss using actual enlargers, two of them actual RGB just like Lightjet, but not involving lasers. And sorry, Sergy - no inkjet on earth can approximate that look when seriously optimized. It's physically impossible for inherent technical reasons.

    I'm not going to get into any argument over "this better than that" either logistically or esthetically. That's not the point at all. I personally use various papers to achieve the look I want for specific individual images. But again, I'm responding in reference to the original question itself, according to which transparent dyes versus opaque inks or less glossy substrates is a relevant factor. A Supergloss print comes with a catch, however, just like Cibachromes formerly did - large ones are considerably more difficult to mount or display due to the very high sheen, smaller ones easier. So if one does go big, the accessory expense of properly mounting and framing becomes a significant factor.

    I'm well aware of Charlie Cramer's switch to inkjet early on for mainly logistical reasons, as well as several analogous cases in this area. An he as well as the others, just like me, are relatively close to the epicenter of tech R&D. Former Dye Transfer printing involved a tremendous amount of time and money, and the odds of success were nowhere near as high. But when DT's were on target, they often had a hue purity and "inner glow" due to the sheer transparency of the dyes simply unattainable with any current fashion of inkjet. And strictly speaking, dye transfer printing is not commercially dead - it's been revived in Germany, and some very noted color photographers are having their work reprinted on dye transfer for a valid deluxe reason, with collectors in mind, even though it's quite expensive. It has its own look, and side by side to inkjet prints of the same image made even by the same individual, the dye transfers often conspicuously stand out, color-wise. It's not an ideal medium where great detail capacity is desired, but neither is inkjet.

    But I'm personally having a major issue even getting back to my aging dye transfer materials because I'm getting such exceptional results optically printing on Supergloss, even via 8x10 contact internegatives - in some cases, better hue or gamut control than anything I've encountered before (though not necessarily ideal for every single color shot I've taken - no one shoe fits all). Yes, I do jump through certain hoops no commercial lab is going to. All of this general topic is very complex; and it's an utter myth that every issue can somehow be tamed in PS. If someone if especially good at playing a cello, that's what they do; if a guitar, they logically choose that instrument instead, and so forth. There is no generic "best".

  10. #10

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    There was a time when color display transparencies via a good light box was a "thing". This image type is inherently different than reflected light images.

    ~The fundamental difference being transmitted light -vs- reflected light. They produce a very different image rendition and effect, trying to make any direct comparison between these two completely different means of image production is simply not possible. Trying to make a reflected light print appear as a transmitted light image is simply not gonna happen.

    ~~One more item, neither is better than the other, they are simply awful or excellent in their own individual ways. So if the goal is the specific image presentation, apply the appropriate image technology as needed.



    Bernice




    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    Any color photographic medium can be made beautiful in the right hands, depending on the specific image itself as well as the skill level and equipment of the printmaker.

    But in this case, the OP was suggesting a particular print look most approximating the kind of vibrancy felt with a backlit image.

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