Wednesday, January 02, 2008


So here's the problem. I've finished scanning all the b&w negs from this past summer's trip, and I have posted them on pbase here and here. And I have made computer generated small prints (contact sheets in Photoshop) of all the negatives. Now the real challenge: can I make b&w silver prints that match what I can do in Photoshop? The above image is a good example. While the negative is a really good negative -- remember I taught Zone for many summers while assisting Oliver Gagliani in his Zone workshops -- there are many small manipulations in the highlights and shadows of this image that are just not possible when printing in the darkroom. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try. I have yet to reconcile to my satisfaction that one process is better than the other. It's the same old arguement: silver vs. digital prints. I'm the first to agree that digital prints in color are, for me, superior to anything I was ever able to accomplish making C-prints. I won't even consider making, or having made, C-prints. But montone (note I don't use the term b&w for digital prints) digital printing has not fully arrived, yet. I have a feeling I'm going to experience a great leap when I get my new 3800 printer in a couple of weeks. At least I hope so. Pardon my regression, but the 13x19 print I made with my old 2200 on Staples Photo Supreme Double-sided Matte paper is nothing short of spectacular. One of the main reasons I have hope for digital montone printing is the V700 scanner I'm using to scan my negatives. It does a wonderful job. While it comes with Silver Fast LE scanning software, I find the version of Epson Scan that came with the V700 superior for scanning negatives, both color and b&w. (Note: the V700 is supplied with SF LE, and not the Ai version.) From what I hear about the profiles supplied by Epson for their current printer line-up for monotone printing is pretty much right-on. I know that once I got my profiles correct for our Epson 4000 at school, it makes very nice monotone prints on just about any paper other than the Epson papers. For me, Epson papers tend to have a magenta bias that I just don't like. This Staples paper doesn't have that bias thankfully, and can print very neutral. I have hanging on my wall three prints made from digital capture and printed with QTR driving the 4000 that are hard to tell they are not silver prints.....the matte surface of the Epson Ultra Smooth Fine Art paper is what gives it away. I guess I will hold off printing any more of this past summer's images until my 3800 is up and running. I'll probably have to reconfigure my digital darkroom in order to make room for it. It's the lack of a place to put the damned thing that is keeping me from getting a 7880. This coming year of 2008 promises to be an interesting year. The above image was made along Utah Hwy 211 (off US Hwy 191 between Monticello and Moab) heading into Canyonlands National Park.

1 comment:

Billie said...

I want to hear about the analog print of this image.....but, I'm betting that the digital image, although it may be a bit different, is going to be the best.

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