Has anyone experimented with digital darkroom printing?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jacobcullen, Mar 26, 2019.

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  1. I was thinking recently that it might be interesting to have a darkroom set-up with a projector for digital images... similar to traditional dark-room printing, you would expose the paper with a projection of a digital image & process like normal... thought it might be an interesting experiment... but I don't have the resources available to try it... was curious if anyone has done this.
  2. Not yet. - A while ago somebody suggested shooting an inverted image on an insanely high res screen with paper in a LF camera. Trying that at home sounds tempting to me. (I don't want to have an inkjet and could make 13x18cm prints, which are bigger than consumer dyesub outputs and still somewhat competitively priced).
    Some folks made a darkroom toy projecting a cellphone via enlarger on paper.
    AFAIK file writers exist for commercial labs. - Most drugstore prints you get are no longer made optically. - Somebody offers writing B&W files on FB paper (that service was announced together with the Leica Monochrom).

    I doubt conventional projection inside a darkroom to be the right approach. I did not care much about video beamers so far, but guess projection tech hasn't exceeded 4K yet, might be horribly expensive and maybe not entirely sharp either? I would prefer shooting the screen of a Retina iMac or something even higher resolving, with LF in the light.
    Beyond that I'd look into converting pre-press tech like film & plate writers to write half tones on photographic paper. 2K4dpi sound quite tempting. Issue to be aware of: That stuff uses lasers to write with, so no chance to use Multigrade.

    Getting started wouldn't be horribly expensive. - A 4K screen is nice to have anyhow. If you take time, to align it, in front of your screen, a100+ years old old tourist camera might do.
  3. In the early days of digital, it was popular to print on transparency film with an inkjet, then use the print as film in an optical enlarger and photographic paper. I made a lot of inkjet transparencies for lectures, but was never impressed with their quality on a photographic level.

    A commercially available alternative is to have digital images printed with lasers on photographic paper. That preserves the look and feel of a photographic print with very high resolution and quality. On a smaller scale, dye-sublimation (or thermal transfer) printers get similar results at home or from a commercial service.
  4. Really? - OMG! - My full understanding for attempts to contact copy from inkjetted transparencies. - Maybe that works for photographic paper. - It didn't really work for offset printing plates.
  5. Okay, a contact print might be marginally better than an enlargment, still optical, still to conventional photographic paper. That doesn't alter the fact that inkjet transparencies have very low fidelity.

    Please explain your reference to offset printing plates, which have less fidelity and less than half the resolution of an inkjet print.
  6. Alternative photography like gum printing or cyano type etc users use inkjet transparencies to make photosensitive prints. Good transparency is very close to the negatives and bigger size are available. But of course they are black and white or tri-color.
    However the idea of making photosensitive digital print from projector is intutive and very interesting if it work.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  7. Are a(n admittedly not overly) light sensitive material. Back in the days they were contact copied from film, first out of process cameras, later out of dedicated digital film writers. While offsetprinting is done at 60l/cm i.e. with about 150lpi when conventional screens are used, lines per inch means there will be 150 size variable screen dots. To display 256 different gray scales you need a film writer at least capable of putting out 150x16=2400dpi. - I think 3200dpi films, for contact copying plates, weren't uncommon. Substituting those with inkjet transparencies meant less resolution to start with. An even bigger issue was the low density of the ink, which rendered those transparencies even more unprecise and way harder to use. - The plates I was copying demanded a more gentle / shy exposure, with lots of UV light meant to destroy their coating in areas where they should not hold printing ink but still it wasn't sure if the inkjet ink would cover the meant to be printing areas sufficiently, to keep the plate coating intact, over there. The final results demanded severe manual cleaning out with correction pens.

    I'm no inkjet-history buff; I once owned a HP Deskjet 500 and believe the bigger inkjets printing the film substitutes were unlikely to have had more than 1200dpi.

    Sorry for getting derailed into my vocational past. Since @jacobcullen asked about stuff we had done and you mentioned usage of inkjet transparencies as film substitute in enlargers I thought contributing my off topic offset pre press experience could be helpful.

    As told before: Shooting 4K screen GIFs (of negatives, for splitgrading, generated from my B&W digital captures) on 13x18cm Multigrade, in camera, is on my conventional wet darkroom & home printing in general related bucket lists. I'll continue to give color printing jobs out of house, as long as DIY (everything included) remains more expensive than doing so.
  8. Photographers' Formulary (LINK) formerly (and may still have) workshops on how to make negatives for contact printing in platinum and such like.

    I've always wanted to do this, but neither time nor money have seemed sufficient for me to get involved.
  9. Interesting thread, but even though I started back in the days of wet darkrooms, I don't personally see the appeal. One can get gorgeous prints from inkjet printers, and there are papers, e.g., some baryta papers, that come close to the look of old wet-darkroom papers. And all of that without the mess and toxicity of wet-darkroom chemicals. But to each his or her own.
  10. You really can't do platinum prints on a printer.
  11. But you can produce large negatives to make platinotypes.
  12. True, but nowadays the "large negative" is usually a digital one. (which is what Photographers' Formulary teaches or has taught), or is that what you meant? If it was, then where's the beef since that is what I was saying.o_O
  13. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Moderator Note:

    This conversation is closed.

    The OP was using sophisticated spamming techniques, some of that member’s posts have been deleted and the account is now permanently banned.

    Thank you to the members who, in good faith, responded to what seemed to be a legitimate Opening Question and their responses remain, perhaps being of assistance to others.

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