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Thread: Digital Prints - Horrors

  1. #11
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    I recall a conversation with Dennis Brokaw long ago : "If you want a transparency on a wall, go dye transfer; but there's just gotta be a better Xerox", stating that with a frustrated tone of voice in relation to all the work involved (pre-inkjet).

    In other words, transparent dyes do to a certain extent reflect light back in a manner opaque inks don't. Don't get me wrong. I have a famous serigraph on a wall in the adjacent room, and right in front of me, a wonderful matte inkjet made from a funky old amateur color negative, which I wouldn't want to see printed in any other manner. But also all around me are some large true gloss poly-based Cibachromes that do "feel" almost as if they were backlit, most of them with extreme detail. Anyone would instantly note the distinction.

    About the only way can I summarize all this it that a bad recipe in the hands of a great chef is better than a good recipe in the hands of a bozo.

  2. #12
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    If you are new to the inkjet printing workflow, there could simply be something awry with the way your driver is set up, or the paper profile it is using. You might want to try making a TIFF that looks good on your monitor and then sending it out to a good service--which will have their printer properly profiled--and see what you get on a few different kinds of paper. Note, for this to work your monitor must be properly calibrated before you have any hope of getting what you see there to look similar on the paper. "Calibration" means that a tiff should look very similar on your screen and another properly calibrated screen, like at the printing service. You didn't mention whether you had done that. I doubt that the drum scans are your problem-- I always got results I considered excellent with a plain Epson 750 scanner, once I beat the gremlins out of my Apple/Adobe/Epson printer driver setup, which was a nightmare I don't care to repeat. Drum scans should be technically better than what I started with.

    That said, for color, I prefer the appearance of a good Chromira print to inkjet for color work, but the inkjet prints may last longer, if that's important to you.
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?


    www.josephoharaphotography.com

  3. #13

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Attached are 2 JPEGS which on my screen show a bit more color range and subtlety than what I am seeing after uploading. These are DS jpegs from RAW 73MP images.

    In this case I am using landscape technique to maximize DOF and setting picture controls to neutral with a tad added saturation.

    How best to print these, and do you see any issues/limitations with the attached that might make it impossible to obtain vibrant prints.

    Coming from LF and DUrst/Chromira prints, digital prints are a challenge. This is my second foray and the prints were so dull that I trashed them both.

    I guess the question is, for digital captured images, should one use Chromira prints as well as from LF scans.

    My printing source has indicated no issues with exposure, saturation, sharpening, or color gamut (ADOBE RGB).



    I very much am indebted to all of you for your expert advice. Will explore other commercial printing sources and try out glossy papers.

    PDM

  4. #14
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Any serious practitioner in either inkjet or laser printing should be able to handle that kind of subject fairly easily. Bob Carnie of this Forum is across the border in Canada just like some of my traitor ancestors back in the Revolutionary War. But for some reason, Bob didn't participate in that war - probably too young to enlist - and his lab seems to often handle forest and foliage subject analogous to that. Inkjets, but he does them well. So there is one good option. He's familiar with laser prints too because he did those in the past, if I recall correctly. There are plenty of places that can do laser prints on either regular chromogenic papers or Fujiflex Supergloss. But since I do my own prints optically, I haven't tried any of them. Maybe someone else has.

  5. #15

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    >> And sorry, Sergy - no inkjet on earth can approximate that look when seriously optimized. It's physically impossible for inherent technical reasons.
    Well, Drew, the same holds true in the opposite direction. Some images look better printed one way, while the others in a different way. Fuji Supergloss and LightJets is not everything in image making.
    Since we touched on this topic, where Lightjet definitely loses to inkjet is the perceived level of details in smaller prints. Going from memory, Lightjets are limited to 300 dpi in input resolution, meaning that a lot of of details from Hi-Res images will be thrown away either by printmaker in preparation of the file for output or by printer's software. Inkjets vary from 600 to 720 dpi.
    I have test images from both to see the difference(not just trusting the specs)

    >> I guess the question is, for digital captured images, should one use Chromira prints as well as from LF scans.
    It is up to you which medium and technology you prefer using for your prints. Both Chromira (LightJet) and Inkjet and are capable of producing great output.
    Comes down to whether you are willing to learn how to prepare images for printing and print them by yourself (limits the options to Inkjets) or outsource. Both are valid approaches.


    There is tons of info on Color Management and Soft Proofing here : http://www.digitaldog.net/tips-and-tricks.html

  6. #16
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Take a moment and look, Dye Destruction Big Prints

    https://www.kenrockwell.com/index.htm

  7. #17
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    PDM, you haven't mentioned what image editing software you are using. Photoshop (for instance) allows you to simulate how the image should look when printed. This requires you to tell PS what printer and paper you are using (paper manufacturers provide these "profiles"). Typically, the image will look "duller" (less dynamic range) after the paper profile is applied to the screen. You can then add a layer to compensate for that (e.g., fixing the contrast curve or color) to make the screen look more like it did before you applied the paper profile. If everything is set up right (which can be nontrivial, at first) the resulting print should look pretty good. PS also has controls for how to handle "out of gamut" colors that won't "fit" in the color space of the screen or paper (color transparencies and probably digital raw files have a larger gamut than printers or screens do). You can experiment with those to find out if one of the settings gives better results. As SergeyT indicated above, optimized digital printing is a huge subject with a lot of moving parts (so large, in fact, that I decided to stick to making silver gelatin prints in the darkroom, and sending out the rare color image to a lab).
    Where are we going?
    And why are we in this handbasket?


    www.josephoharaphotography.com

  8. #18

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    Hi Joe and thanks for the input.

    So I used to use PS exclusively, particularly with my 4x5 scans but since shifting to mostly digital, I have gravitated to NX-D because for the most part, few adjustments if any are required for it to look good on the screen. I don't stack or merge files/mask.

    Some have said that PS produces a greater file sharpness than NX-D, but I couldn't tell the difference. 16 bit TIF files were uploaded to an FTB site, and my request was for "visual punch" in the digital prints, which I think equates to less opagueness and more reflectivity. The goal on all of this is display and with the digital prints I have to increase the amount of light hitting them as compared to Chromiras for instance to see them visually on the wall. None of the images were underexposed, but though colors are generally very nice, there is something with the visual acuity lacking. Detail is there but less sense of differentiation or edge sharpness. Unsharp mask was used exclusively, 6,48,0,0 with a very small amount of mid-range sharpness and clarity added.

    The images come across as faded in intensity (not in color) to what I am accustomed to. The colors are beautiful, but is the lack of edge sharpness which makes the prints unusable. In effect you are losing the opportunity to explore the details in the image in exchange for almost watercolor gamut. I guess they call it giclee for a reason.

    What is curious is notwithstanding my request for more visual punch, the lab still insisted on matte finish thick exhibition paper. Recalling a conversation many months ago on the ins and outs of setting up images for them to print, I did not capture the subtle statement then that many photographers supply their own paper in certain circumstances. My guess is they didn't want to bother to suggest (and I asked) a different paper, but they wanted to used what they had in stock. Perhaps financial difficulties are keeping them from good customer service.

    I've used this lab since 1997 and they recently merged with another group and the owners retired. So it may be that I am just dealing with people who just don't care to help me get to where I want to be. They seem overly fastidious with sizing however, which leads me to believe I need to come in with everything sorted out and they will match expectations then. They don't want to provide any suggestions, yet in the early 2000s their Chromira prints were magnificent, where they were able to tweak them to maximize visual output. Same personal, different management.

    Perhaps I should consider printing my own images but with so much time on my hands, I would prefer to be hiking outdoors with camera.

  9. #19

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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    ... same personnel, different management.

  10. #20
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Prints - Horrors

    it sounds to me like your choice of paper is the cause of the disappointing prints. Can you have samples printed on various stocks to be able to compare the color? It does not have to be full-size or the entire image, just the same area on a variety of papers.

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