Piezography: Ansel Adams and the inkjet print

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by micah_marty|1, Jul 9, 2001.

  1. No, this isn't a thread about "WWAD" (What would Ansel do). I'm well
    aware that St. Ansel embraced new technologies, sought maximum control
    over prints, etc. etc. So let's not make this a
    would-he-or-wouldn't-he discussion; it's safe to say he'd at least
    experiment.

    <p>

    Instead, my query is about piezography, the quadtone ink-and-software
    kit for b&w printing on Epson printers (www.piezography.com). Quoting
    from George DeWolfe’s review in the new issue of View Camera, "I've
    been a black-and-white printer for over 35 years. I studied with Ansel
    Adams and Minor White, and I know what a beautiful print is. . . .
    Piezography has changed the way I work, and it has changed the way I
    see. It has allowed me to expand my vision into subtle tonalities I
    didn’t know existed. . . . If Ansel were alive, he'd be into
    [Piezography] big time. Big time."

    <p>

    Strong words. More praises from DeWolfe: "Piezography . . . has,
    overnight, changed the history of photography. It is the answer to
    traditional photography's toxic chemical heritage and is
    environmentally safe and sustainable. The print is as aesthetically
    beautiful as silver, and as archival. . . . Piezography with the
    [Epson] 7000 pushes us beyond what we have known as the best in
    black-and-white photography." (Read the full review on p. 58-59 of the
    July/August issue of View Camera.)

    <p>

    "Changed the history of photography overnight"! Is Piezo really that
    good? I’m curious to hear whether any frequenters of this forum are
    using/have tried Piezography (perchance even with the Epson 7000?)
    and/or have at least studied large Piezographic prints up close, in
    person (i.e., not on the company's website). Thoughts, comments?

    <p>

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  2. Some months back I obtained a small piezography sample print from Jon
    Cone. The effect is quite intriguing, and I can imagine that at some
    point in the reasonably near future the process will be refined to a
    point where I may want to investigate further.

    <p>

    IMO it's a different medium which shows promise of being beautiful in
    its own way, and as such is worth paying attention to. But it's no
    *substitute* for a good silver-gelatin contact print - not even
    close. It's just a completely different effect.
     
  3. First of all, note that I know nothing about piezography.

    <p>

    However...the properly-processed silver print, platinum/palladium prints etc have a good track record for longevity, while so far as I know piezography has no track record, just claims.

    <p>

    Photography has been full of claims of archival stability that have proven to be untrue; E-3, E-4 and C-22 come to mind offhand. Much color photography of an entire generation has faded away. Epson recently continued that tradition when their "archival" print material quickly turned green.

    <p>

    Something to consider.
     
  4. Fwiw, I see that George DeWolfe's apparently-similar article for
    Camera Arts (sister magazine to ViewCamera) is downloadable as a PDF
    file from Piezo's website,
    http://www.piezography.com/exhibition-printing.html

    <p>

    <><><><><><><><
     
  5. The only fair comparison is side by side prints of the same subject
    and have photographers compare them without knowing which is which
    and see what is chosen. Claims are not proof. Pat
     
  6. Just finished looking at the prints, they both are stark contrast
    without subtle tones of any kind, at least on my monitor, which is
    what I am saying, the only fair comparison is side by side. The
    companys website photo's would never convince me to try it. Pat
     
  7. I dunno. I've been printing for 35 years too, and the inkjet B&W that
    I've seen so far, and produced myself, impresses me about as much as a
    badly done bromoil smudge.<br>Having said that, I haven't tried
    quadtone inks, because they just don't seem to be readily available on
    this side of the pond.<br>I'm willing to be convinced that they are
    capable of good results, in the same way that bi-tone halftone
    printing is miles better than a standard B&W halftone reproduction -
    and yet..... it's still not quite a silver print is it?
     
  8. Recently I too a Piezography print made on the Epson 7000 to Tomas
    Lopez at the University of MIami. Tom I believe is the Chair of the
    Fine Art department although it may be Art History Department.

    <p>

    Tom looked at the print almost had a heart attack. He stated that it
    was incredible. He had never seen such a tonal range aside from
    platinum.

    <p>

    The process has promise, but as with any medium I have seen
    unbelieveably awful silver prints and as such I am sure there are
    awful platinum and Piezography prints.

    <p>

    I have seen George DeWolff's prints in person. They are truly lovely.
    But so are John Sexton's silver prints.

    <p>

    Another medium, with it's own set of issues, both positive and
    negative.

    <p>

    Mike
     
  9. Hi, it's me, Micah, the initial poster again. With all due respect to
    the above posters who want to speculate about Piezograph prints
    without having seen them, allow me to note that I specifically asked
    to hear from frequenters of this forum who have studied Piezograph
    prints *in person* ("not on the company's website," I said, computer
    screens being completely worthless for conveying print quality).
    Frankly, the only in-person experience posted here so far (the "heart
    attack" one) sounds like a pretty good endorsement. Anyone else with
    "in person" experience?

    <p>

    The archivality issue raised by John Hicks is a consideration, but I
    don't know if it would be a deciding factor for a lot of
    photographers, especially if Wilhelm Research or the like say that
    Piezos are likely to last as long as toned b&w silver prints. Then
    too, I suppose it's a different thread but the importance of
    archivality to collectors/buyers in an era where pressing the "Send to
    Printer" button produces an identical print could make an interesting
    discussion topic. For example, I'm guessing that Piezo prints are at
    least as archival as color LightJet prints or Ciba/Ilfochromes, even
    though the latter substrates were employed in most of the
    photographs that have set price records (six-figures) in the
    contemporary photography market (Gursky, Sherman, Tillmans, etc.).

    <p>

    Perhaps what I'm getting at (albeit very indirectly!) is the
    difference between buyers' priorities and sellers (photographers')
    wishes. Once the archivality is likely to exceed the buyer's lifespan,
    is the buyer more concerned about the appearance of *the image* or
    whether the photograph is likely to start fading in 150 years instead
    of 200 years? Hmmmm.

    <p>

    I struggle with these creator vs. buyer issues all the time, because I
    know that what's important to me as a photographer isn't necessarily
    important to my audience. It was tremendously liberating for me, for
    example, when I asked Howard Bond last spring why he retired his 11x14
    camera and he said, "Because neither I nor anyone I showed them to
    could tell the difference between my 11x14 contact prints and my 11x14
    enlargements from 8x10 negatives." (Granted, I still shoot some 11x14,
    but with a different perspective than before.) I know some will
    respond to this viewer-centric perspective with "Audience,
    shmaudience, I shoot only to please myself," but there are at least as
    many others here who are photographing for various viewers and
    audiences, whether they be buyers, collectors, gallery hoppers, book
    buyers, or magazine subscribers. It was to the latter group (i.e.,
    those with an audience or constituency outside their own heads),
    especially those who work in black-and-white, to whom I suppose I was
    addressing this thread.

    <p>

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  10. I have been printing PiezographyBW on an Epson 1160 for about a
    year. I do not do have a darkroom and have never done my own B&W
    printing. I just do not have the space or time. Having a lab print a
    real quality B&W print for me has always been a problem. I did a
    workshop 2 years ago with George DeWolfe and he had several Piezo
    prints to show everyone. They were beautiful. That is when I decided
    to try it. I must say that the Piezo prints are very beautiful. I
    have compared Lab prints with my Piezo prints of the same subject and
    the Piezo prints are much better in my opinion. I do know that
    someone that is good in the darkroom can make a print as good or
    better than a Piezo. For me the technology is wonderfull. It does not
    take up much space. It is faster and for me very rewarding. As far as
    print life goes only time will tell.
    I have also been printing color on the Epson 2000P. I do believe
    that this technolgy will go beyond any darkroom printing. When done
    properly prints are as good as any color printing method there is.
    Done properly there is no GREEN print and the prints are beautiful. I
    do believe that print life will be longer than any other method out
    there.
    Inkjet printing will be a new and intersting way to try printing.
    It will never replace traditional printing. It is kind of like buying
    a new kind of camera and learning how to use it. It's fun!
    Scott Squires
    www.scottsquires.com
     
  11. hi guys. i've seen, and made, many quadtone prints. on the
    positive side, their tonal range is amazing-- right up there with the
    best platinum printing, especially the smoothness of the midtones and
    quartertones. i've had a lot of difficulty getting rich, silky blacks
    with the quadtone process though-- they blacks tend to block up badly
    from about zone 7.5 on down.

    <p>

    but, with that said, there is another, really fundamental problem that
    i see with push-button printing. while the IMAGE can be really
    beautiful on an epson print, the actual PRINT itself can never hold
    its own as a work of art, because it is made by a machine with no
    human effort. yes, yes, i know, the photoshop work took massive human
    effort, and photoshop is a craft that requires just as much skill as
    darkroom printing. but what that means is that the photoshopped image
    might be a work of art, but the PRINT you make on an epson printer is
    still nothing more than a fifty-cent machine reproduction that has no
    more value than a postcard.

    <p>

    and, yes, you can sign them and number them and include a
    "certificate of authenticity" and do all kinds of other tricks to make
    it LOOK like they are works of art, but fundamentally a machine-made
    print lacks any intrinsic value as a work of art.

    <p>

    one reason that ansel's prints are so valuable is that he made them
    all himself, by hand. there might be a killer beautiful print of
    Moonrise Hernandez out there, made by someone else (for example,
    George DeWolf might have gotten ahold of the neg and made a print just
    as good as any of Ansel's), and if that print did exist, it would not
    be worth anything. nor would an epson print of Moonrise that was
    scanned flawlessly from an ansel original. the reason is that ansel's
    prints are handmade-- in other words, they are works of art. epson
    prints will never reach that level, however perfect and beautiful the
    images are.

    <p>

    just my $.02...

    <p>

    ~chris jordan

    <p>

    www.chrisjordanphoto.com
     
  12. Wow - you mean Ansel didn't use an enlarger..? How did he do that
    then. Did he generate his own light, god that he is?

    <p>

    And does it matter who did the printing? or does it have to be the
    photographer himself?

    <p>

    Or does it only become art if the manipulation is done in the 1-2
    minutes the print is being made? Using what 50c or $1 worth of paper,
    a few more pennies worth of chemicals and a about 5c worth of
    electricity... gee that's an awful lot of technology there too.

    <p>

    Just as much human skill goes into making a great digital print (and
    I have seen some) as into a silver or platinum print. It's just that
    there are very few people out there with that level of skill.

    <p>

    Tim A
     
  13. If a handmade print of the "Moonrise" negative laboriously printed by
    George DeWolfe (or, more likely, John Sexton) is indistinguishable
    from a handmade print by Ansel, why is the former "worthless" and the
    latter extremely valuable? Probably because you're actually paying for
    the artist's name (and time) rather than the quality of the physical
    object (quality which is, to repeat, identical between the two options
    given). But that brings us precisely to why people like Andreas Gursky
    can sell computer-printed photographs for $150,000-plus (far higher
    than Moonrises go for) even when they didn't do ANY of the work
    involved in creating the print: because buyers care more about the
    name of the creator (and the conception of the image) than about the
    actual quality of the object (cf. "vintage prints"--I don't know any
    photographers who think their prints were better 10 or 20 years
    earlier, yet any famous photographer's older prints almost invariably
    sell for more than recent ones do).

    <p>

    I'm playing devil's advocate here--as a b&w darkroom veteran I like to
    think all that toil is worth SOMETHING--but I'm also asking
    whether perhaps some of the old categories no longer apply in an era
    when even experts with a microscope cannot tell the difference between
    various prints of an artist's work. I think a lot of us in this forum
    think (or at least hope) there will always be a discerning public
    willing to pay a bit more for handmade darkroom silver prints. I just
    wonder if developments like Piezography (i.e., developments which make
    possible prints approaching the appearance of silver and platinum
    prints) are more likely to increase the size of that connoisseur
    public or drastically reduce it.

    <p>

    <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
     
  14. While I believe the final print is what most of us are after and
    judge photographers by, getting there is half the fun. That is why we
    are using LF gear in the first place.
    The digital prints can be stunning and are only getting better. They
    still have a way to go to match the life expectancy of Platinum and
    Carbon though. As for judging them on a computer screen... a waste of
    time. No matter how good your printing is on the computer screen it
    is at the mercy of the equipment. Your exquisite print looks like
    crap on a cheap and uncalibrated screen. You can't really judge them
    this way, you have to see the prints one on one.

    <p>

    If it works for you then use it. I have yet to see a digital print
    that matches an excellent contact print. Some of us use larger
    formats not only for the contact prints but because the equipment,
    with all its 'limitations', just fits how we work & see the world.
    The satisfaction in the whole process is embodied in our final
    prints. This can be had with a digital setup as well but I think the
    mindset is a bit different as you work through the computer.

    <p>

    Many in the future will combine both traditional, alternative and new
    processes to get their minds image on film and on the walls of the
    exhibit halls. For me it all comes down to one thing... does the
    print work?
     
  15. Micah - Very interesting post.
    I attended the Calumet Master classes workshop Three weeks ago for the
    Dan Burkholder Enlarged Digital Negs. workshop. George Dewolfs Images
    were hanging on the wall of the gallery with examples from other
    Master Photographers past and present.( Adams, Westons, Strand )you
    name them, their images were there for us to see. George Dewolf was
    running his workshop the following week.
    Micah THE IMAGES WERE O-U-T S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G. I took every opportunity
    to look at his work up close and personal ( and I do Mean close ) each
    day of the workshop I had never seen anything like them before. I have
    been a black & White printer for 32 years,I've seen a lot of good and
    bad work these were very very impressive.
    Also a fellow classmate from England who was taking Dewolfs workshop
    the following week showed me some of his work also, ( IN INK ) we
    traded images.
    It has change my hole out look about the printing process. I have been
    tring to made prints on my epson 1280, I am waiting for Cone to make
    solfware and inks for my printer in black & white, and when that
    happens I'll give you one hint as to what I'm going to do. It's the
    IMAGE that counts not whether It's silver or Ink. In respones to the
    ink or silver question of your post Ink has been around alot longer
    than silver-THINK ABOUT THAT folks.
     
  16. At one of the recent Atget exhibits in New York I saw an Iris print
    hanging among Atget's original albumen prints and a few modern prints
    from the Chicago Albumen Works. The Iris print was a great print,
    but it didn't look like an albumen print--more like a really nice gum
    bichromate print. I think the difference came from the effect of
    spraying ink on paper, as opposed to emulsion floated on a surface.
    The ink just had different reflective properties and produced a
    different kind of line.

    <p>

    Inkjet processes might be very good processes and could even have
    excellent archival properties, but I don't see one process replacing
    another, just as silver is not a replacement for platinum, gum
    bichromate, Vandyke, or cyanotype. I would suspect that most of us
    would not see one type of BW paper as a reasonable substitute for
    another type of BW paper, let alone a particular inkjet process for
    all traditional processes. They each have their own look.
     
  17. Readers who live on the left coast should think about attending the
    "West Coast Piezography Summit 2001" at West Coast Imaging in
    Oakhurst, CA, on August 4. Look at www.westcoastimaging.com for
    details.

    <p>

    I have been using Piezography on an Epson 1160 for a couple of months.
    I can easily make superior prints to my "wet" darkroom work (but I
    don't claim to have any great skill at "wet" work).

    <p>

    I look forward to seeing some "master" Piezography prints.

    <p>

    My next project, to create "high value" prints of great "artistic"
    merit, is to produce prints using only fluids and materials from my
    own body. No mere $.05 worth of ink, $1.00 of chemicals, or $.25 of
    paper. These prints will be worth $MILLIONS! (Of course, they will be
    banned from display in New York, but that can only add to the value.)
     
  18. The idea of digital B&W printing is intriguing, but even if potential
    image quality and permanence of Piezography prints has matched silver,
    there are still a lot of issues for someone, like myself, who has no
    experience with digital photography.

    <p>

    For example, what capital outlay is required to get started? I'm not
    sure what equipment is needed, but presumably (1) a scanner (I know
    that I can have scans made, but the cost is really high); (2) a
    computer capable of handling the image editing (I have a PC, of
    course, but I don't know whether it has the required processing speed
    and memory), (3) Photoshop (costs as much or more than a good used
    enlarger); (4) a printer that can be dedicated to B&W printing; (5)
    the Piezography kit. My impression is that the initial investment
    here could go into the many thousands of dollars. In contrast, my
    initial investment to set up a wet darkroom was under $1000.

    <p>

    Then there is the question of obsolescence. When I bought my
    enlarger, I figured that it was an investment in a piece of
    equipment that would last for many years, maybe decades. My
    impression is that digitally-based photographers replace expensive
    equipment and software virtually constantly. Given the rapid
    improvement of digital hardware and software, there is also always the
    conundrum of whether to buy now or wait for the improvements that are
    bound to come in six months (probably at lower cost). Looking at the
    list above, this might be particularly applicable to the decision to
    purchase a film scanner--I gather that affordable scanners (especially
    for larger film formats) are currently the weak link in the home
    digital imaging chain. But that means that if I took the "digital
    plunge" now, I would have to spend $80 or so per scan while waiting
    for affordable, high-quality scanners to come on market.

    <p>

    Finally (unless there are other problems I haven't thought of), there
    is the issue of the learning curve. It's hard to know what is really
    involved because all the information I have found on Piezography seems
    to assume a working knowledge of digital imaging. But it looks like I
    need to learn how to do scans, Photoshop, basic inkjet printing, and
    the particulars of Piezography.

    <p>

    It's all a bit daunting. I would really like to try digital printing,
    but it looks like the startup costs (in terms of both dollars and
    time) are prohibitive. I'd love to hear from anyone who has taken
    this on that it is simpler, easier, and cheaper than it appears.
     
  19. Chris Jordan, you have a great argument. We are in the early stages
    of inkjet printing, where the printer is being used as a printing
    press. Why don't we take our "best" andhave it printed as a quality
    laser-scanned offset lithograph. Everyone is feeling their way
    through this and, yes, I don't think pushing a button 50 times to get
    50 prints is the best use of a desktop printer. Still, each "print"
    has a smuch validity to me as what we do in the darkroom.

    <p>

    The conventional photograph, no matter how glorious it can be, is also
    just a photo-mechanical reproduction. A series of the same image is
    no more real because we struggled to get each one the best we
    could-and many are trying to replicate images here for "series."
    (Including at times I imagine bulk processing prints.) The best
    marriage of digital and traditional I know of is the LensWork
    Quarterly Special Editions-a scanned master print that is then contact
    printed on fiber base paper, selenium toned, etc. To me, 10 of those
    have no less value than 10 prints done "all handmade" under the
    enlarger. I know this is counter to what photography has been
    fighting for all these many years, but it is the way I see it. A
    single painting is different from 10 drypoints that were indiviudally
    inked and pulled is MUCH different from printing the same negative
    over and over-only stopping for a series.

    <p>

    If we wish to replicate a photograph with inkjet printing that is fine
    and most of my work is stuck there. Instead, think in terms of ink on
    paper and explore it for what it can create. Then, we'll stop arguing
    about photograph vs. inkjet. Note: I just received some 11x14
    photographs from a friend that blew me away in quality. I can't equal
    them on my injet printer bu
     
  20. Chris Patti raises some great points about cost and obsolescence. I
    know I could only justify the expense of Piezo if I were selling
    prints, and even then I would let a service bureau absorb the capital
    costs, not me ($100K+ for the drum scanner, $4K for the Epson 7000,
    $2500 for the Piezo kit, plus paper, ink, RAM, etc.). Otherwise, as
    Chris P. suggests, it could be a bottomless pit--you buy the
    top-of-the-line printer and a few months later there's one that's
    twice as fast, with higher resolution, etc. Yes, the cost per print
    might be higher if I pay a service bureau to make the prints than if I
    owned the equipment, but then too they can amortize the capital costs
    over a larger pool of clients than I can (and I suspect my personal
    "cost per print" calculations might not fully account for hidden costs
    like saving up for the next printer I'd have to buy).

    <p>

    For proofing, file, and pre-press needs I'm plenty happy with contact
    prints and my enlarger; low tech, low investment. But if I were
    selling prints in any quantity and didn't want to spend a lot of time
    fussing over them (in the darkroom or on the computer) AND didn't want
    to invest my life savings in soon-to-be-obsolete digital gear, I'd pay
    a service bureau (like westcoastimaging.com) to both scan my negs and
    print them.

    <p>

    <><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
     
  21. To all - I saw and was wondering the same thing as West Coast Imaging
    offers these prints. One factor that makes be balk is the price,
    equal or more than what the best custom printers will charge for
    traditional (from my limited experience anyway). Also there appears
    to be a maximum size on these prints, maybe 20 some inches on one
    dimention.

    <p>

    However ... one advantage of this process, and for all the digital
    stuff, is that the dust isn't an issue. It's exceedingly difficult,
    short of having a micro chip clean room set up, to get dust free
    negatives, and the dust ALWAYS migrates to the place to where it can
    do the most damage. I've had no experience with print spotting, but
    suspect it is a last ditch, less than perfect, effort to save a print.

    <p>

    So I'm thinking these P. prints maybe worth checking out for my negs
    that are flawed with dust.

    <p>

    And has anyone tried B&W printed onto fuji crystal archive via a
    light jet printer? Would this be a viable option for the right image?

    <p>

    Regards,

    <p>

    T
     
  22. my main problem with this concept ( and i use computers for
    advertising work extensively) is the sad loss of the evolution of the
    printing process. I went to the chicago museum of art and held a
    moonrise printed in the 80's in one hand and a moonrise printed in the
    40's or 50's in the other---what an educational experience. all this
    will be lost, not only for the viewer but also for the photographer
    who never advances the quality of a particular image past the initial
    printing or the pressing of a button. how sad
     
  23. Spotting isn't that hard, and when done well, it isn't easy to detect.

    <p>

    Even St. Ansel wrote of spotting as a normal procedure--just part of
    putting the last touches on a print.

    <p>

    Speaking of St. Ansel, he does write with considerable enthusiasm in
    _The Negative_ about the possibility of enhancing highlight and shadow
    detail using the digital drum scanning technique employed at that time
    for printing his later books, and he also is quite positive about
    duotone lithography, at least as a method of mass production. One
    thing he mentions, which might be of value to inkjet users is the
    importance of matching the reflectivity of the ink to the reflectivity
    of the paper.
     
  24. Correction: That's _The Print_, not _The Negative_.
     
  25. I've been a silver printer for years and have recently gotten into
    quadtone printing. I started with PiezographyBW on an Epson 1160 and
    was astounded with the image quality and potential of the
    technology.

    <p>

    After a few months of being impressed, however, I started seeing some
    of the defects of the technology and set off on my own to see what I
    could do to get a product that was more to my liking. I've started
    modifying the inksets, writing and distributing Photoshop adjustment
    curves to control the inks, fade testing the products, and working on
    the color issues, not to mention the cost issues.

    <p>

    Here are some of the pros and cons I see, and some of my observations
    of quadtone printing:

    <p>

    On the plus side, the most obvious advantage is the ease with which a
    print can be made. This, of course, is also a weakness in that it
    may cheapen the prints.

    <p>

    One reason I find the image quality so nice is that the technology
    allows shoulder-less and toe-less prints. You can get a brilliance
    that you'd need to use bleaching to achieve in a silver print.

    <p>

    The computer technology, of course, allows fantastic control over the
    image. Even though I prefer "straight" landscape shots, even the
    traditional burning and dodging can be done with a precision that was
    impossible with analog printing. The pros and cons of the computer,
    of course, is a topic that would result in an endless thread.
    Suffice it to say here that of the many ways of achieving a digital
    B&W output that I've tried, the quadtone print is the most satisfying
    and affordable, and probably the highest quality.

    <p>

    The bottom line to the image quality issue is that I can almost
    always produce a print with the inkjet printing systems that will be
    preferred by viewers over the analog (darkroom) system print.

    <p>

    On the cost front, Piezo can be expensive, but I've found that MIS
    inks can produce just as good quality with no software cost and much
    cheaper ink costs. With the MIS inks, you use the Epson driver and
    Photoshop controls.

    <p>

    One of the most common negatives heard among Piezo users is that the
    color of the Piezo inks is too warm and/or green. That was my first
    negative reaction, but has now been solved with the variable-tone
    approach that I have published and distributed for free. (See my
    website, below, for an explanation.) I first made a variable-tone
    version of the Piezo inks, and now MIS is going to sell and support
    a version of the variable-tone inkset that will allow us to print
    either warm or cold-tone prints, or even split-tone prints -- all
    with a single inkset.

    <p>

    The lack of strong blacks is also a common complaint. However, most
    of us have found that with the right papers the blacks are fine. I
    use Epson Archival Matte, which is inexpensive (see, for example,
    atlex.com) and gives a look that is, especially under glass, very
    compatible with my silver prints (when the cold version of the
    variable-tone inks are used).

    <p>

    As a practical matter, even though the blacks are not as dark as the
    silver print blacks, I've found that under glass and in normal
    viewing circumstances the stronger reflections off the air-dried
    silver prints often gives the much flatter-surfaced Archival Matte
    quadtone print the advantage.

    <p>

    The inkjet prints are not as "archival" as a good, fiber-based silver
    print. I use this term to include light-fastness, which is the real
    issue. Inks fade when exposed to light and/or other substances. On
    the other hand, the MIS and Piezo quads are pigment-based (as opposed
    to the more common dye-based inks) and should last a very long time.
    MIS pigmented inks have been tested by RIT to 50 years, and that test
    was limited by the yellow of their color inkset. The black-only quad
    should last much longer.

    <p>

    As a practical matter, fading in normal display is not the problem.
    What is a problem is that the quadtone prints tend to warm up over
    time. The pigments are apparently coated carbon particles, and the
    warm native color of the carbon starts to show through. The good
    news is that I've fade tested a method of dealing with the warming
    that shows promise.

    <p>

    So, having gone on too long already, the bottom line is that my
    darkroom is now much more of an ink mixing room than silver printing
    room. Once you see how good these prints are, you might just find
    you're hooked.

    <p>

    Paul,
    http://www.PaulRoark.com

    <p>


     
  26. I would love to start working with the Piezography system, but when
    will it be available for the Epson 890/1280/2000P? Is the MIS system
    better or worse than the Cone Edition products?

    <p>

    Confused.......
     
  27. I came kicking and screaming into digital photography as an old pro
    who looked upon it as another "computer game" but tonight I'm eating
    crow while I am making MIS Quadtone inkjet prints to be sold tomorrow.
    I've seen the Cone prints and made my own MIS prints and I now believe
    that the difference is not great enough to justify the substantial
    price gap. I believe that the price will come down and the
    selections of ink and paper will rapidly multiply, don't be surprised
    if Epson doesn't see the market and introduce their own Quads and
    dedicated B&W printers. I'm using Epson's 1160 printer (out of
    production but still available), MIS Quadtones with their refillable
    cartridges, and a variety of papers mostly available from MIS. Final
    observation, getting up to speed in PHOTOSHOP took me quite a while
    especially black & white image acquisition and manipulation. There
    are plenty of pitfalls and idiosyncrasies just within PHOTOSHOP.

    <p>

    Best regards,
    C. W. Dean
    Practicing Professional Photography since 1972
    Photography Samples: http://www.erols.com/cwdean/home.htm
     
  28. I'm writing Photoshop image adjustment curves to control the MIS
    variable-tone inks for Jerry Olson's (and others') 1280. Some of you
    know Jerry from the Piezo and Epson-Inkjet (Leben) lists. You may
    also have seen some of his work in the June Shutterbug. Jerry is a
    Brooks Institute-trained, 30 year professional photographer, now semi-
    retired, who has switched to quadtone printing. He has used Piezo
    inks and software extensively, but was not happy with the warm tone
    of that inkset. He then used my variable-tone modification of the
    Piezo inkset to get cold tones, and he is now using the variable-tone
    MIS inks with his Epson 1280. His comments on the latest versions of
    my curves for the MIS variable-tone inkset and 1280 were as follows:

    <p>

    >The [prints made using the] Neutral 10 and cool 11 [curves]
    >are better than the last ones in the prints I made.
    >I don't know if you could improve on them any more.
    >Cold tone Piezo Quality at MIS prices.
    >Quite an accomplishment.

    <p>

    With the variable-tone inksets Photoshop adjustment curves control
    whether the tone of the print is warm, neutral or cold. One simply
    selects the appropriate curve and applies it before printing the file.

    <p>

    (In general, the trick to controlling quads is to partition the inks
    so that only the lightest ink goes into the highlights, then the
    darker inks start to take over as appropriate. PiezographyBW
    software does this and Photoshop adjustment curves can also do it.
    With the variable-tone inksets a toner ink is added to give control
    over the tone of the print.)

    <p>

    I've finished the adjustment curves to control the MIS variable-tone
    inkset for the 1160 and 3000, which are the printers I have. MIS
    will, I assume, have this system on its website soon. I also have
    curves for the 1160 and the Piezo-based variable-tone inkset (which
    Cone Editions does not support, but I distribute the curves and
    instructions -- for free). Once these curves are written, anyone can
    use the saved curves files easily.

    <p>

    On modern Epsons the quality of the MIS variable-tone inks are equal
    to what one would get with the Piezo system. The standard MIS inks
    with proper adjustment curves should also be essentially equal. The
    quality of the adjustment curves is really the issue.

    <p>

    The 3000 does have a larger dot and dither pattern than the newer
    printers. However, the highlights are still virtually dotless when
    good adjustment curves are used with quads. (There is no comparison
    to the big dots one sees with a color inkset on the 3000.)

    <p>

    On the other hand, if one looks closely, there are some areas where
    some graininess can be seen in prints made with the 3000 and the
    Epson driver. But, for 16x20s the 3000 is the inexpensive way to go,
    and at that size the dots at their worst are still smaller than the
    grain in my medium format, Tmax 100 16x20s. (If you print large
    format Tech Pan negatives, you might want to get an Epson 7000.)

    <p>

    The inkjet technology and quad inksets have definitely reached the
    point where even picky printers can be very satisfied -- even blown
    away -- by the quality of their images. It's time to jump on the
    train.

    <p>

    Paul,
    http://www.PaulRoark.com
     
  29. I spent a little time with George in Maine last summer and saw some
    of his prints. They were very impressive. However, it might be well
    to remember that George is an excellent printer period. Just as I
    don't make prints that look like John Sexton's, despite the fact that
    we use the same equipment, I suspect that my quad prints wouldn't
    necessarily look like George's just because I used the same equipment
    he uses. To me, what George's prints showed is that in the right
    hands, and given enough time and money, a very beautiful black and
    white print can be made on an ink jet printer. In other words, the
    system isn't inherently inferior any more.
     
  30. Paul, I'm just curious about which RIT test for the MIS inks you're
    referring to. Is this a published test? I read an interesting paper
    the other day, a thesis actually, based on a series of tests done by
    the IPI which concluded that it was too early to make accurate
    accelerated aging tests of ink jet prints. They were working along
    with a team of ANSI/ISO researchers to develop a set of standards to
    begin accurate testing...they concluded that until there was a set of
    lab standards, that there were too many variables associated with the
    types of aging tests now.
     
  31. DK,

    <p>

    Here is the URL for the MIS RIT test results.

    <p>

    http://www.inksupply.com/index.cfm?source=html/rit.html

    <p>

    I think that it is very early in the process of predicting the
    display life of inkjet (or any) medium through accelerated fade
    testing. However, I'd guess that RIT does as good a job as any at
    the current time. I'm sure standards and test procedures will
    improve, however.

    <p>

    I made my own simple tester with a florescent light, and my
    comparative results correlate fairly well with the published results
    and with the "south window" tests that are often conducted by inkjet
    printers. While none of these tests give me any confidence that an
    ink and paper combination will look good for any number of years,
    they do seem to produce comparative results that relate to the real
    world. That is, when I put two test strips in my tester and look at
    the results after 100 or more hours, the results of what I see look
    like what I've seen when the same combination was put in the sun, and
    the results correlate with what others report. So, I use those
    results to try and find the best combination of inks and papers.
    However, to make the jump from such a test to saying a display print
    will be good for X years, is a leap of faith that I'm certainly not
    going to take.

    <p>

    What I fully intend to do, however, is take the Epson "200 year" life
    2000P pigments, make a test strip with them, and simply publish the
    raw scans of that test strip along side test strips of other pigments
    after they have been in my fade tester. This way people can see for
    themselves how lightfast (relatively at least) the "third party" (non-
    OEM) inkset might be.

    <p>

    Paul,
    http://www.PaulRoark.com
     
  32. Thanks Paul, I'll check that out in a bit...here's a link to a group
    that studies indoor air pollution in museums (I have a bit of an
    interest in this), go down to the part about Papers and Technical
    Notes, and you'll see a pdf file for Barbara Vogt's paper "Stability
    Issues and Test Methods for Ink Jet Materials".

    <p>

    http://hjem.get2net.dk/ryhl/

    <p>

    I have included the whole site here because there's alot of worthwhile
    info on here for those of you who may be interested...

    <p>

    There's also been a bit of discussion in the past few years on the
    conservation online lists, both the conservators/preservation lists
    about testing as well...as I understand it, the ANSI/ISO group has
    split into several areas to study setting up new standards. There's
    some concern that the tests now are based against the standards for
    traditional photo materials, and that new stds. have to be set up for
    inkjets....
    There is also more dealing with environmental pollutants over just
    light
    fading. You may find this paper interesting because the Epson 2000 is
    one of the test printers. For another look at accelerated tests (based
    on papers) here's another good site:

    <p>

    http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byorg/abbey/napp/

    <p>

    While this site deals with paper, alkalinity etc., the discussion
    about accelerated testing may be useful.

    <p>

    Incidentally, about the best digital prints I've seen yet have come
    off of Fuji Pictrography units. I've seen both b&w and color prints
    that looked just as good, if not better than traditional
    prints..although I'm in a different field than you all are in...i.e.
    not fine-art. We jsut got a traveling NARA exhibit of over 100 prints
    from their collection, some famous ones too, Dorothea Lange, Danny
    Lyons, Lewis Hine etc. These are called "digital prints" although they
    look to me like they came off a Lambda printer, or a Lightjet...I need
    to find out what they are, because they look great.
     
  33. A note for those who protest about buying expensive computers and
    software, only to have them become obsolete immediately:

    <p>

    Your computer and software are not obsolete as long as they perform
    the task you require of them. If a faster CPU comes out, yours does
    not cease to function. If a new version of Photoshop is released, your
    version does not refuse to launch.

    <p>

    I've seen small companies that run payrolls on an old 80286 computer
    running DOS. It does the job that is asked of it. No need to mess with
    it. If the computer dies, you can replace it for less than $10!

    <p>

    If you have a requirement that current hardware/software cannot meet
    (not enough memory, too slow, printer or scanner resolution too low,
    etc.), then you should wait. If a current system meets all of your
    requirements, then why wait?

    <p>

    If your system is sufficient, the only reasons to upgrade are: you are
    willing to pay the price for that little extra speed; some component
    has failed; you are doing something new, which requires a more capable
    machine; some new "feature" will make your life so much more pleasant
    that you just can't refuse.

    <p>

    The people who constantly upgrade are doing it because they have some
    fetish about owning the latest and fastest. You do not have to join in
    this dick-measuring contest.

    <p>

    Finally, if there is one weak link in your process, ie. you want
    high-quality scans but can't afford a scanner that meets your needs,
    that's when you look to the service bureaux. They regularly buy the
    best equipment, and amortize the cost across their customers.

    <p>

    For example, you could set up a digital workflow as follows: a
    computer with enough RAM, CPU speed, disk space to make you happy (if
    you can settle for one or two notches below the state-of-the-art, you
    can save a lot of money); a flatbed scanner; an Epson inkjet; maybe a
    piezography printer; photoshop. When you have that exceptional image,
    pay for a drum scan. When you want to print to a wide-format printer
    (or get a lightjet print, ...) send it to a service bureau.
     
  34. Michael, don't you think your response is a bit ironic seeing how
    people are jumping to this new and expensive technology (considering
    most of them probably have traditional printing equipment already or
    access to it) only because it is "new" and "digital". Don't get me
    wrong, this technology is great and I use it extensively for
    advertising work, but I don't really see any advantages to it for fine
    art work. To spend all this time and money (if you are not already
    digitally equipped) just to achieve "almost" or "at least as
    good"(time will tell), just seems a bit silly to me.
     
  35. Well...there's two sides to the coin, as usual...I really despise
    consumerism ( getting the latest thing just because you want it...)
    but, alot of people who upgrade are worried about being left behind.
    Running payroll, or basic word processing functions is different than
    imaging, and especially "archiving"...you can sit on outdated
    equipment
    as long as you want if it works for you, but you better have backups
    if there isn't a clear path to the new technology....

    <p>

    The other side is that, yeah, if it lives up to what you bought it
    for, why run out to get the new thing, or the next new thing, or the
    next next...

    <p>

    Which reminds me of the digital slr we have that cost twice as much as
    the D1, but has half the resolution....it still does a great job. Are
    we going to get another, no...because this does what we need...only
    it's not supported anymore and the way it's running now, we have to
    import files through photoshop 4, save them, and then on to 5.5...and
    I have yet to meet or make contact with another pro/studio using one
    of them....all in about 5 years time.

    <p>

    But, that's the price of progress...end of philosophical look...my
    real problem is that there is no defined standard to ink jet lifespan,
    whether it is a dye based or pigment based ink. People will fuss over
    the pros & cons of fiber based v.s. RC prints forever, and then jump
    on the bandwagon fullforce for inkjets believing manufacturers claims
    (which, hey, may pan out alright in the end...) I'm open minded about
    usage, but there is an irony to it in a way....it may be my cynicism,
    but I like to see all the test methods spelled out...not some final
    figure. I have used materials that were recommended as good in
    acclerated tests, only to discover over the course of a few years,
    that this isn't really so....things change outside of a lab
    alot....and when it comes down to pollutants in the typical office/
    home air...good luck...there's everything from the ozone produced by
    copier machines, and inkjet printers, to foramldehyde in carpets &
    furniture, and peroxide from oil based paints and car exhaust, and
    household cleaners and everything else under the sun...not to mention
    the stuff that comes of us by just handling prints....
     
  36. I guess the best way to go is to look at it is on a case by case basis
    and weigh all the positives and negatives---then make the best choice
    that you can.

    <p>

    I remember in school being pressured by some dealer reps to purchase a
    digital large format back---"you have to make a seperate exposure for
    each color (rgb) and its about $30,000, but you have to have it to
    compete in today's market!!", yeah right, I really needed that.

    <p>

    good talking to you...
     
  37. This is epecially for Chris and for the comments of Micheal.
    Getting a System, a scanner, computer, printer, and
    software, and getting it all to work together While you learn to
    operate it and at the same time learn Photoshop and all your other
    software to where you have an ability to manipulate your images in any
    way you can imagine is an ordeal.

    <p>

    From day one when you plunk down your cash for your system and
    software to when you become master of your equipment and images, it
    will not only be an arduous learning curve in digital manipulation but
    for many days and sometime weeks on end, outright torture.

    <p>

    When I first purchased my system, the OS didn't really work, or
    rather it worked half the time, and crashed the other half. My scanner
    wouldn't talk to my computer, my computer wouldn't talk to my printer,
    and when I could get them to talk, they would talk for awhile and then
    crash. I changed the OS along with countless visits on site for all
    the problems and glitches by the manufacturers techs(get 3 yrs onsite
    no matter what!!!), and slowly but surely after a year or so, I could
    turn on my computer do something and turn it off. My software which
    was all name stuff, would cause crashes, and of course when I would
    call the software outfits to problem solve the crashes caused by their
    bugs that they neglected to tell me about when I bought their stuff,
    they of course told me it was not their fault but the fault of the
    hardware I was 'usin, and hang up.

    <p>

    I paid everybody good money my system and software and nobody
    would own up to anything. Their were countless days when I had to get
    nasty, yell, act ugly, to get results. The all time low for me was
    when the manufacturer of my system starting sending out techs on
    'on site' calls who had to be walked through a problem on the
    telephone by another more experience tech at headquarters. I had such
    an individual show up and mess up my system worse than when she
    started working on it.

    <p>

    Speaking of learning curves, after all the weeks or months of
    reading the one or two inch thick manuals of some of these 'top notch'
    programs, they would come out the next improved version with just
    enough to put you behind with what everybody else is capable of doing
    or improved color profiles and such. All this stuff had bugs in them,
    and some of the good stuff from previous versions would be missing
    from the upgrades! Micheal, you know as well as I do that you upgrade
    for flexibility, capability, and also because the upgrades have the
    bugs elinated. I don't buy upgrades just to spend money although many
    people probably do.

    <p>

    Chris, every time you get new software and/or upgrades, be
    prepared for system crashes, losing your sound, a problem with you
    printer, and on and on. You'll eventually find your way through this
    maze of bugs, crashes, arrogant and/or obnoxious customer support, 2hr
    phone calls for help, and everything else you have to go through.
    You'll get good at using your system, you'll become a master of
    photoshop, you'll get all your stuff working just right and if you're
    smart, you'll just freeze you system at that point and refuse to make
    another change.

    <p>

    I haven't added any hardware or software to my system for quite
    some time, and it's because everytime you do you will encounter some
    of the above mentioned headaches. The trouble with digital is that
    everybody hypes what the hardware and software can do, but you don't
    find out about the bugs and incompatabilities until you buy the stuff.
    Yes I will call to check out something and I have several times been
    mislead and lied to about whether or not something I was considering
    buying would get along with my system.

    <p>

    The above stuff that I've mentioned has not really been discussed
    in detail here and I think it should be addressed. This is what
    separates digital from traditional Photography, the bugs, the quirks,
    the difficulty in getting tech support, the hype and sometimes
    outright con games and many of things we simply wouldn't tolerate from
    a regular photo dealer.

    <p>

    Finally, a good portion of Photoshop is straight out of
    traditional photography, paiting, and many other traditional art
    forms. A lot of what is digital, CAME OUT OF THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY
    and as such, digital is an outgrowth of photograhy so it would be
    crazy to talk of how digital is going to replace traditional
    photograhy. When are folks going to start letting digital stand or
    fall on its own terms instead of claiming that some advance in digital
    is going to wipe out or replace something else? I did digital for
    years and still pland to do so, but I've just moved up to 8x10. Why?
    Becasue of the alternative processes and a wish to indulge myself in
    the rich experience of contact printing.

    <p>

    Sometimes I think some folks yodel some digital advance and then
    yodel how it's going to kill off the photographic this or that as some
    kind of roundabout way to gain credability.

    <p>


     
  38. Some of the most beautiful photographic reproductions I have
    ever seen were conventional quadtone lithographs produced by
    a master printer. Gorgeous tonality and hair-sharp. The inkjets
    I've seen haven't got there yet, but if that's what they're aiming for,
    I have no complaints.

    <p>

    Mind you, although the lithographs were beautiful pictures, they
    were recognisably different from conventional photographic
    prints when it came to surface texture and 'look'. I don't see why
    both can't co-exist, just as the art print world has a huge
    spectrum of different printing methods.

    <p>

    DK: pictrography prints are a dye-transfer technology. I would be
    surprised if the dyes were as long-lasting as the pigments used
    in the various archival inkjet inks, but I don't know. I've had quite
    a few pictrography prints made recently, and they are excellent.
    About the only downside is the limited maximum size (30x40 cm
    round here) and my local lab's slightly bizarre pricing structure.
     
  39. Struan, you're right about the Pictro prints, we've been looking at
    the smaller machine for a few years, and were actually pretty close to
    getting one a year or so ago...that's another story though.

    <p>

    Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying they have the lifespan of
    cibachrome or anything, but I would feel more comfortable selling
    prints to patrons off of one one of those, than say an inkjet printer.
    We also looked into dye sub printers about the same time, including a
    few Kodak models, this would have been around 1996-2000 or so. At this
    time, inkjets were a different beast really. The dye sub printers
    realistically had a lifespan in line with the average c-print, about a
    6-10 yr. range. That would be under heavy, bad use...

    <p>

    My thinking is based under not assuming anything will last forever,
    and assigning a "lifespan" to a material. If it's going to be used in
    an exhibit for a couple of years, and then tossed...so be it. I just
    become suspicious of the use of the word "archival"...because it's
    more of a marketing word than anything. There are standards in
    photography for certain materials and institutional uses...residual
    fixer, paper quality etc. But, even here they do not use the word
    "archival"....I could sell a Kraft envelope as an archival film
    folder, even though it wouldn't pass any of these standards....this
    kind of marketing goes on all the time...

    <p>

    But like I said, I'm not talking about fine art printmaking here...to
    me, I go for the negs/ct's first...use prints for access....and now
    use digital in the same way. I would rather stick with the tried &
    true, but in a way I feel like we're being railroaded into digital,
    like it or not. We'd be stupid to sit and wait for things to settle
    out....as a final note, we do use inkjet printers (wide format HPs,
    Epson 3000 etc.) for most of our signage & exhibit graphics nowadays.
    We have a silkscreen operation as well, and used to screen print
    everything and use cibachromes & b/w rc prints for all our
    images...there is a loss of detail with the inkjets, but at the same
    time they're a little more versatile and definitely more friendly to
    work with. But when I make an inkjet for an exhibit...and we're really
    just starting out here, I'm hoping that it will survive the year or so
    it will be on display...if it craps out, we'll just print another &
    replace it...this is all in-house though...not selling to some patron,
    or using for a long term use...I wouldn't feel comfortable with that
    yet.
     
  40. We have one of the Kodak dye-subs which we bought about
    seven years ago to produce non-dithered output for scientific
    journals who like to scan originals. It's softer than the
    pictrography output and the colour gamut is quite a bit smaller -
    greens in particular block up rather easily. It does the niche job
    we bought it for very well, but there are better options these days.
    With the ultra-life coating the prints have lasted very well, but one
    set hanging in a corridor went red overnight when a new
    linoleum floor was laid :-(

    <p>

    I think the key with conventional photographic materials is that -
    RC bronzing aside - it is fairly well known what sort of problems
    are likely to crop up and what is likely to cause them. That
    makes it relatively easy to design an accellerated ageing test.
    As the Epson orange-shift fiasco showed, with new media there
    are new rules, and with a couple of hundred years to play with
    very subtle interactions can become significant.

    <p>

    That said, for years people have talked in awed tones about how
    wonderfully stable carbon and other pigment prints are. It
    seems slightly bizarre now to see many of the same people
    finding reasons why laying pigments onto paper with an inkjet
    nozzle is somehow inferior to transferring them from a textured
    gelatin layer.

    <p>

    I'm waiting for the "Sultan of Brunei" special edition from Epson,
    which sprays crushed rubies, emeralds and lapis lazuli onto
    slabs of polished Carrara marble. If nothing else, the print buyer
    will have good reason to keep it safe.
     
  41. That's so true about some of those early processes...but I think the
    problem is in knowing
    exactly what is in the inks...understandably there are alot of
    propietary ink formulas out there....like this one link above, the
    tech sheet said it was a "hybrid dye-based pigmented ink". Your story
    about linoleum sounds familiar...I've seen properly processed RC
    prints turn orange practically overnight in a similar situation...the
    problem is in the emulsion laying on the surface exposed....at least
    you can tone a print with sulfide or selenium toner to combat
    this...an inkjet you're sort of at the mercy of the air quality...if
    you read the fine print of some of these tests, like the current one
    in PC world, you see the stringent conditions that the projected
    lifespan entails. Sometimes I wonder if the average consumer realizes
    that the supposed "200 year" LE means that it will be stored &
    displayed within a specific temp/humidity range, sealed in an aluminum
    frame with a UV protected glass, and displayed under certain lux
    levels of light...

    <p>

    I've always liked the pictro prints because they've been around for a
    while now...the machines & materials have been in production for close
    to 10 years now, which makes them sort of old fashioned almost. The
    basic machine (8x10) starts at around $10k, so it's not like the
    average consumer is going to buy one...but I have seen them in studios
    in our area, as well as in other agencies. Our color lab has stopped
    making cibachromes, and for the past year every print we've gotten has
    been on this material...and they look great. I've seen b&w's that were
    profiled well, and look just like b&w's...but speaking of dye subs, I
    saw a promo shot the other day of an old Lewis Hine image from another
    insitution and it was a dye sub...the print took me back for a minute,
    because it had a tonality very close to the old Portriga Speed, and I
    thought what rc paper is this?? I turned it over and saw it was a dye
    sub print...this same institution offers a series of inkjet prints for
    sale on their website, with a disclaimer that essentially says they
    won't last, but they are a cheap alternative to a traditional print.
    Which I think is a very reasonable offer to make to patrons without
    telling them that it is an archival substitute.
     
  42. To extend my comments regarding "if your computer suits your needs, it
    is not obsolete", I think the same philosophy applies this way: If you
    use a traditional printing process and it suits your needs, why change
    to digital? If digital provides no advantage over your wet
    darkroom/platinum/etc. printing, it is probably not worth the expense
    and bother.

    <p>

    Commercial photographers are always looking for ways to improve their
    efficiency. The lure of digital is that it can be cheaper and faster
    to deliver a quality product to the client. (From some of the stories
    above, maybe not.)

    <p>

    Among fine art photogs, there is wide range of philosophies. Some
    specifically want to use a traditional process (for various reasons: a
    sense of craftsmanship, or tradition, or they know exactly what kind
    of result they will achieve); others are interested in exploring new
    techniques, "pushing the boundaries", etc. (again for various reasons:
    a sense of adventure, or trying to improve quality, or lowering costs,
    or getting better control over the image, etc).

    <p>

    Neither approach is right or wrong. However, you can debate endlessly
    about them.

    <p>

    I am pursuing the digital route, for my own reasons. I am not going to
    claim that it is superior to traditional techniques. I can't make any
    resounding claims that digital is "nearly as good"/"as good
    as"/"better than" traditional, but this doesn't stop me from going out
    and making photos and enjoying the process of making prints. I am
    taking Charles Cramer and Bill Atkinsons' Digital Printing Class
    (using LightJet) this very weekend, and I'm going to have fun at it,
    dammit!
     
  43. Micheal, what you say sounds good, and makes perfect sense. I
    agree with everything you say, but what I would have wished for and I
    hope anyone who is considering going digital would in fact talk to, is
    a guide or mentor that can steer you away from the hype,
    misinformation, lies, deceptive ads, companies that throw hardware and
    software out there without adequate support and towards the stuff that
    works supported by people who are willing to fix their stuff when it
    goes wrong with no hassles.

    <p>

    Digital is GREAT, WHEN it workS right! But for digital to work,
    everything HAS to work TOGETHER! The perception which the makers of
    digital hardware and software make no effort to change, is that if
    you're considering digital, all you have to do is buy this or that and
    hook it up, and you are running. The CD burner that I now swear by
    originally gave me serious problems. I called several times and when
    they realized that I was going to be a pain in the ass until they
    solved my problems they told me that their software didn't really work
    and recommended another companies software! I bought that software
    and didn't have another problem! You know I would have loved to have
    known this about this CD burner before I bought it.

    <p>

    Your whole system is made up of several pieces of hardware and
    countless software programs that have to get along with each other and
    when don't talk to each other you can spend days or weeks trying to
    fix your system, which is time you could've been spending on
    manipulating your images.

    <p>

    I don't really disagree with your thoughts about digital but I do
    hold the manufacturers of digital hardware and software accountable
    for putting out products that are not ready for the market. Whether
    it works or not, they shove it on the market and figure that we'll pay
    for the fixes(upgrades), that should have been in the original
    product.

    <p>

    You would think when it came to digital and electronics, that
    there would be a quest for excellence, a long term loyalty toward the
    product, and a commitment toward courtesy when dealing with the people
    who bought your product, but I find this attitude scarce in the
    digital world. Anybody who has anything to do with this forum who say
    for the sake of argument, had a camera that would quit working three
    to four times during the exposure of a single roll of film and the
    camera did this on a regular basis simply wouldn't tolerate it or an
    indifferent attitude from the manufacturer or dealer who sold you that
    piece of equipment. You'd put them straight and quick! Too
    many People who produce digital hardware and software don't feel the
    same way.

    <p>

    The point I'm trying to make is that digital is useful, but that
    are are lot of hassles and I don't believe digital is easier or faster
    than traditional photography when you consider the downtime involved
    when your scanner, or computer, or printer is on the blink.

    <p>

    I had to ship my system back to the manufacturer twice and for
    those two individual problems it took six weeks. You know what I did
    for those six weeks? I went out and shot with my cameras. My cameras
    and strobes and meters and so on, almost always work. One of my
    fathers cameras that I have works, and has worked for 25yrs without
    skipping a beat. There is NO REASON on earth that digital can't be
    like this!
     
  44. So, what happens if you lose power?? Sorry, I'm not trying to be a
    smart*** here....in an ideal world digital could be as you described,
    but one problem is in that we are really in the dark ages
    here....there's a bit of comfort in knowing that with a large format
    transparency or even a neg, or a contact print you can still get the
    basic info. you need without power....
     
  45. With all the discussion as to digital and traditional darkroom
    methods, there is one area where digital is so far superior to any,
    and I mean ANY... traditional darkroom.

    <p>

    Computers and pixellography are the greatest time wasting devices
    ever invented. Better than a traditional darkroom. Even if you are
    one of the very anal Zone System testers who spends years testing
    before trying to make a 'real print. Buy a computer, photoshop,
    scanners & printers, get the papers to try & all the inksets around
    and you can spend years testing, trying to get the damn things
    calibrated & do it over and over again after the systems crash every
    now & then.

    <p>

    Traditional photography can't even come close, and that includes
    putting an 8x10 into the hands of an idiot while forcing them to mix
    their own Amidol to contact print on Azo.
     
  46. An electronic camera can lose power, a mechanical camera can stop
    working, and I've got both. I've got 6 cameras and one of 'em stops
    working about once every ten years.

    <p>

    That idiot with the 8x10 is a lot better off than the idiot who
    got 'sweetalked' into buying the wrong digital hardware or software.

    <p>

    It's the old Richard Pryor joke over and over again. 'Are you
    gonna believe me or your lyin eyes'.
     
  47. What is your goal? I invested heavly into digital printing, not
    capture, last fall and would never look back! I am a commercial
    photographer and being able to work on an image in PS is such a
    tremendous improvement over conventional darkroom work that there is
    no comparison. If your goal is to produce hand crafted contact
    prints, this is not the "work-flow" for you, but if your goal is like
    mine, to work professionally as an imagemaker there is no other
    process that enables such a variety of creative input in an image as
    a PS system. A digital workflow is not efficient making a "straight"
    print from a negative, that is not my "goal" so I am not bemoning the
    difference between PS and a darkroom. I have read many posts on this
    subject and have noticed there is alot of confusion as to what the
    final "goal" of the photographer is. Commercial, Fine Art, hand
    crafted prints??? an so on... Why make the comparison when the
    digital system is just another process the creative mind can use to
    it's own end.
     
  48. If you refer to my posts, then I suggest that you reread them
    because you misrepresent what I had to say. I have several goals,
    35mm shooting, MF shooting, and now 8x10 shooting, producing
    photomechanical prints, and digital capture and output.

    <p>

    Nobody is bemoaning anything except the shoddy workmanship,
    indifference, arrogance, misrepresentations, and lies that I have
    encountered too many times when buying digital hardware and software.
    It doesn't make any difference what you're goal is if you're left to
    pursue it with equipment that doesn't work, or works badly.

    <p>

    When I consider a piece of equipment whether it's digital or
    anything else, and I call you up about that equipment, I expect you to
    tell me the truth, if you don't then you've lied. You mention
    printing as one of your 'goals', what are you gonna do if you get a
    printer that doesn't print, or prints badly? You get it fixed, or
    replaced, and when you call about that printer you expect those people
    on the other end of the line to be respectful and prompt in fixing or
    replacing the equipment you paid good money for.

    <p>

    There is great digital equipment out there, but you have you head
    in the sand if you don't realize there is also lousy equipment out
    there made by people who don't care.

    <p>

    You have confused the issues, I've got digital among other things,
    and I love using it, the idea of using digital in not my complaint.
    You can diminish or belittle what I'm saying by implying that I'm
    crying about it, but whether you like what I've said or not, it's the
    truth. Digital being in its infancy, has to have the con men, the
    market hype, ridiculous claims, and people who don't take pride in
    workmanship, to fall by the wayside in order to grow.

    <p>

    Everything I've had to say, is with the poster in mind who is
    considering getting into to digital, and suggests reasoned choices
    with a mentor looking over his or her shoulder making it a much easier
    road than the one I followed when I got into digital. If this isn't
    reasonable to you, then you're on another agenda.
     
  49. I agree with many of Jonathan's comments, and I believe that his
    warnings are valid. It sounds like he has endured are great deal of
    frustration, and that is often the case with computers. It doesn't
    only happen in digital imaging, but with all hardware and software.

    <p>

    Frustrating problems are more likely to happen with digital imaging
    because more variables come into play: in addition to the basic
    computer and software, you also have scanners, cameras, printers, etc.
    With each addition, there are chances for conflicts and
    incompatibilities. Also, digital imaging stresses your system more
    than other applications, such as word processing.

    <p>

    So, I second Jonathan's advice to find a mentor. If that is not
    possible, look for classes/courses/seminars on the subject (hopefully
    they will not be "sales pitches"). Sales people should not be
    believed; manufacturers claims are inherently suspicious.

    <p>

    Forums such as this one are invaluable. Experienced people are
    answering questions, giving advice, and debate on controversial
    topics. I have learned a lot here. I hope I can help others.

    <p>

    For a personal example, I recently wanted to learn how to make
    high-quality color prints from my 4x5 transparencies. I am
    particularly interested in digital, because I want a high degree of
    control and I do not set up a darkroom. From this forum and other
    web-surfing, I discovered that many methods are available, from Iris
    and other inkjet processes to the LightJet.

    <p>

    In the end, I decided to explore the LightJet, and found that a class
    is taught in Santa Clara, CA (at Calypso Imaging) by Bill Atkinson and
    Charles Cramer, both of whom produce beautiful prints (I had seen
    their prints in person, already, and knew they were printed via
    LightJet).

    <p>

    After the weekend class, I am able to prepare my own prints for the
    LightJet. If I had not taken the class, I would probably spend many
    months "floundering", trying to figure out how to get good results.
    Fortunately, Charlie and Bill have done the hard work, and are
    gracious enough to teach others. (I highly recommend this class to
    anyone who wants to learn digital printing.)

    <p>

    This type of experience makes working in digital a pleasure, rather
    than a nightmare. (Okay, we'll still get disk crashes, system freezes,
    software/hardware conflicts, etc. You can minimize some of the risks
    by saving often, and making backups.)

    <p>

    As to B&W printing, I am still exploring. I have a Piezo setup, but I
    haven't learned to systematically make great prints with it yet.
    Hopefully, a greater body of experience will grow through these forums
    to help us all.

    <p>

    At the West Coast Imaging Piezography Summit, I am hoping for two
    things: To see examples of great prints that inspire me to make great
    prints, and to interact with other Piezo users to advance towards that
    goal.
     
  50. There is a new forum that is devoted to all methods of printing B&W
    from digital files. It's attracted most of the best posters for that
    issue from the other scattered lists. If you are interested in
    digital B&W, check it out.

    <p>

    The new forum is at:

    <p>

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DigitalBlackandWhiteThePrint/message
     
  51. I know this is a post to an old thread, but bear with me.

    <p>

    This past weekend, I visited a friend of mine who recently purchased
    an Epson 1160/Jon Cone Piezography BW combination. Being a curiuos
    person, I really wanted to know what prints would look like from
    Tango drum scans of a few of my Tri-X 4x5 negs. Here is what I
    learned.

    <p>

    After spending a few hours of selective dodging and burning in
    Photoshop, and some time doing selective sharpening, I had an image
    that I would feel comfortable with. Our first print of the image was
    a small 8x10 print, and my first reaction to this print was "uh oh,
    too much banding". However, I looked at the image and noticed a huge
    dynamic range from white to black. Hmmmmm. Promising.

    <p>

    Since I noticed some banding, we decided to clean the heads of the
    printer before we went any further.

    <p>

    Reprint of 8x10 size. Hmmmm. Badning non-existent. Very promising
    image, indeed. This is when it hit me. My emotional reaction was
    very similar to when I first saw a platinum print. Very crisp.
    However, the blacks weren't deep enough for me. Maybe I am stuck on
    silver prints. I dunno.

    <p>

    Anyway, after 30 minutes of changing our over-aggressive sparpening
    in Photosop, and some more dodging and burning, we printed a 10x17
    image. I really like this print. Tonal qualities are exactly what I
    want. The continuous tone of the print makes me forget that it came
    from an inkjet printer. Wow. I like it so much, I am getting it
    framed today as a gift for my brother for Christmas.

    <p>

    What strikes me as a huge positive with this system, is that I do
    the dodging/burning/sharpening, etc. once. Being a perfectionist, I
    only have to do this one time, and then I have an image that I will
    be happy with for some time.
     
  52. Over the last few months I have been using both the piezography
    software and inks and other inks, printing a selection of my 4x5
    black and white negatives, which I have scanned using an Agfa Duoscan
    HiD.<p>

    I'll get to the point ; I would actively dissuade anyone from the
    expense and hassle of piezography. It is very poor value for money,
    the inks regularly clog the printer nozzles, the technical support
    which is touted on the web site is non-existent, the tone of the
    prints is an unpleasant warm brown, very far removed from the
    selenium toned effect many would wish to have for their prints, and
    most importantly, it is not as good quality as other, much better
    value options currently on the market. In my view, the claims that
    they make are vastly overstated and little more than marketing hype.
    I simply do not believe their claim that they can get the Epson
    printers to print at greater than 1140 dpi - or if they can, their
    technical service department has never bothered to answer any of my
    queries on this. Much of the ink is wasted on cleaning clogs from the
    printer nozzles - incredibly frustrating!<p>

    I have found my best option to be to use the Lyson quadblack cool
    inkset. It does not clog and produces results which are far superior
    both technically and aesthetically to piezography, IMHO. I have
    absolutely no affiliation to Lyson, by the way.<p>

    Through much trial and error, I have found that the best approach is
    to scan a 4x5 negative either at original size at 2000 lpi (maximum
    resolution), or at 150% size at 1333 lpi. Both of these scans produce
    a 290 mb file. After some limited work in Photoshop, I can either
    print this size, or configure a print file for a larger size while
    keeping the resolution the same (i.e. interpolation). An A3 sized
    print will have a print file of between 650 - 850 mb in size, which
    does take about 10 - 15 minutes cpu processing time, and about 10
    minutes printing time, but the quality is really excellent - close to
    exhibition quality. I do feel that I have at last found a viable high
    quality printing technique that I can control myself from exposure
    right through to final print.<p>

    I regard the money I spent on the piezography software as an
    expensive mistake. Having a high quality digital printing setup can
    be better achieved through other options.
     
  53. Fw:

    <p>

    I believe that your experience with Piezography is not typical. Many
    believe that it is the best, albeit not the easiest to use or least
    expensive, digital printing platform for B&W. With regard to your
    specific comments:

    <p>

    Piezography inks are not subject to the metamerism found in dye based
    inks nor dye/pigment inks. Metamerism is the tendency for an ink
    system to appear different under varying light conditions. For
    example, Piezography prints do not change dramatically under
    tungsten, fluorescent and incandescent light sources. The same cannot
    be said for ink systems produced by Epson, Lyson, MIS and others.

    <p>

    Certain papers alter the perception of tone because of the paper
    color. For example, the inks print silvery neutral on Somerset
    Velvet. Using specially coated paper such as Somerset Enhanced will
    cause the inks to warm moderately as well as print with greater
    dynamic range. Hahnemuhle papers offer deep blacks and only slight
    warming. Concorde Rag creates a warm look reminiscent of Platinum
    printing.

    <p>

    The inks used in the Piezography system are carbon black pigment
    inks. Pigment inks are much more archival than dye or dye/pigment
    based inks, but they can cause clogging of the inkjets (especially if
    used infrequently). And yes, Piezography inks are not quite as cold
    tone as many would like. So you are correct about the clogging cold-
    tone issues, but you can’t have everything if you want archival
    prints. Hopefully these issues will eventually be adressed.

    <p>

    The Piezography system (unlike Lyson) is more than just ink, it is a
    software print driver that takes over control of the Epson printer
    and prints at a higher resolution. The reason that Epson doesn't do
    this themselves is that, the higher the print resolution, the more
    obvious are print problems (banding, herring-bone patterns, etc.)
    that are caused by imprecision in the paper transport mechanism of
    the printer. The Piezography system uses different print drivers for
    different printers, because the highest resolution can only be used
    on the printers with the best paper transport mechanism (such as the
    Epson 7000). Cone estimates that about 1 in 3 Epson printers have to
    be returned for exchange because they do not work well with the high
    resolution Piezography system. Fortunately, Epson has a liberal
    warranty policy during the first year of ownership. So, whether or
    not you believe it, Piezography does print at a higher resolution.

    <p>

    My experience with Piezography is that they have excellent customer
    support. You can examine their support options at the following web
    page: http://www.piezography.com/ts/index.html
    The best part of the technical support web page is the Users
    Discussion List where you can ask questions and get answers from
    other users as well as Cone support staff (and Cone himself). A
    message archive search function is available.

    <p>

    Whether or not you can actually see the difference at normal viewing
    distances between the Lyson inks (using a normal print driver) vs.
    the Piezography inks and drivers, and whether the cost difference is
    worth it, is of course something only you can answer. Some people
    have experimented with the Lyson inks using the Piezography drivers
    because of the cost difference in the inks. There have been some new
    developments with the introduction of the PiezographyBW Pro24 system,
    and other new Piezography solutions are promised in 2002.
    Unfortunately, like much of the digital world, the very highest
    quality solutions are not cheap, and usually become obsolete every
    few years. This is not problem for digital printing labs, because
    their equipment only lasts a few years anyway due to constant use,
    but is problematic for the individual photographer.

    <p>

    Lastly, if you want to sell your Piezography software and any
    remaining inks, try eBay or the Piezography Users Discussion List.
    They seem to sell pretty quickly.
     
  54. "I simply do not believe their claim that they can get the Epson
    printers to print at greater than 1140 dpi - or if they can, their
    technical service department has never bothered to answer any of my
    queries on this."

    <p>

    That bit is pretty simple - the Epson printers print at 720 dpi. 1440
    dpi = 2 passes; 2160 dpi (Peizo. driver) = 3 passes; 2880 = 4 passes.
    Thats why the registration and transport system is important and the
    better bilt printers are better.
     
  55. "Piezography inks are not subject to the metamerism found in dye
    based inks nor dye/pigment inks. Metamerism is the tendency for an
    ink system to appear different under varying light conditions. For
    example, Piezography prints do not change dramatically under
    tungsten, fluorescent and incandescent light sources. The same cannot
    be said for ink systems produced by Epson, Lyson, MIS and others.

    <p>

    The inks used in the Piezography system are carbon black pigment
    inks. Pigment inks are much more archival than dye or dye/pigment
    based
    inks."

    The same can be said for the MIS pigment Quadtone inks. The MIS VM
    Quadtone inks also offer cooler tones and are as light fast.
     
  56. Thanks, Michael and Tim, for your comments.<p>

    On the printer resolution, I have never been able to get the
    piezography software to make its four passes, despite multiple
    different configuration attempts, and I have never received a single
    reply to my various queries to Cone technical support on their web
    site. Eventually I gave up.<p>

    Re metamerism ; Michael's comments on the effects on different papers
    are interesting, although I do think that this is a very subjective
    area, where people will have different tastes and preferences. I have
    mainly been using a heavy matte white textured paper (Lyson soft fine
    art), on which the piezography inks do come across as very brown and
    warm.<p>
     
  57. I am not sure if you are still interested in pursuing this, but if
    you ask a question on the Piezography Users Discussion List at
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/piezography3000/
    someone (either a Piezography support person or a user) will probably
    answer it. Despite the group name, this is for all PiezographyBW
    users, not just for Epson 3000. Also, there are frequent updates to
    the Piezography software available for download from their website.
     
  58. This is an extract from an e-mail I received this morning from inkjetmall;
    PiezographyBW was instrumental in introducing to desktop printer users a system similar to the professional systems which Cone Editions developed for IRIS Graphics in 1996. The PiezographyBW inks were released in Feb, 2000 and were made from carbon pigment and small amounts of dye. Problems began to surface with this unique ink formula which we did not immediately realize were related. The problems reached a peak in late 2001, and we were able to understand that the issues were not related to isolated customer use, nor mechanical printing problems, but were correlated and we issued technical support bulletins and began remedying users. We were not able to resolve these issues with our suppliers but nonetheless we tried to stand behind each of our customers. As sometimes happens when technically supporting a product, it begins to develop problems and eventually has a known set of issues. But many users are left out of the resolution process by being too early in the troubleshooting. Their problems and issues may have not yet become known patterns, and they may not have received satisfactory answers and resolve. Once known problems and issues are established, users are carefully troubleshooted through the processes to determine if they are affected and the users are easily remedied. We have remedied many users of this original ink set, but we cannot determine if we also alienated many others. We were able to substitute a new ink product called PiezoTone which does not have the problems and issues of the original PiezographyBW inks. We have tried to be as responsible as possible as a company to our customers. We also realize that not everyone was adversely affected by these inks. We want to hear that too!
    At least they are now admitting that there were serious problems, as noted in some of the posts above. I certainly received no assistance whatsoever from their customer support when I had major problems, possibly because I do not live in the USA. But I am happy with my Lyson set-up, and it'll take a massive move in product quality (both inks and software) and customer support for me to want to switch. A good lesson in never believing marketing hype, or indeed endorsements without substance!
     

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