With digital I was finally able to master the negative. I used Photoshop to mask out the doorway in just the right way so that I didn't compromise the quality of the light inside it or the light over the sea. I was able to bring the picture back into the kind of light proportions I'd originally observed. In fact there was a streetlamp behind me when I took the picture, and it added a cool-to-greenish tinge to the scene that I could never reproduce in the C-print. Photoshop and the HP print let me recapture the kind of discrete color that I originally responded to.
"Whenever I would see that pool of bronzing in the blacks of other inkjet papers, I would think, Ugh, this isn't a photograph. I want to have the purity and depth that you get with real photographic paper, so it doesn't look like art paper, a painting, a lithograph, or anything other than a photographic print.
In its range and authority, Premium Plus Satin comes closer to the quality of real photographic paper than anything else I've experienced. It exceeds my expectations. I've even been using it to make match prints for a book I'm working on, so that the print house has a reliable reference for the reproductions. And I now use the paper to make prints that galleries sell and museums collect.
Technology, whether it's in a digital camera, an inkjet printer, or a paper like this one, is the engine that drives photography. It's what keeps the language rich."
Dye transfer was always the gold standard of traditional color printing. I went back to a 35mm Kodachrome from 1967 to see if I could make an inkjet print on the Designjet 130 that was as good as the original dye. What I saw was that I could make the inkjet print better than the dye transfer. Because the dye was made from three black-and-white color separations, it didn't handle certain transitions well. In some of the corners of the dye-transfer print, where the light falls off, instead of going to a gray or a black the tone went slightly green. The dyes simply couldn't hold the transition.
With the Vivera inks on the HP printer I was able to maintain the kind of gradation that goes into shadow without it slipping into color. I was even able to get the darks in the painting to yield a little bit more. I felt that the digital print matched the feeling of the dye transfer, but actually exceeded it in the transitions down into the darkest tones.
I've been using the Designjet 130 to print my early Kodachromes that were originally produced in limited editions of three or four simply because the dye-transfer process was so expensive. The digital prints are cleaner. Even the grain is less visible. The dye transfers picked up a certain granularity from the black-and-white separations, and always buzzed a bit. The prints from the Designjet 130 do a better job of reproducing the creaminess and wonderful, long tonal scale of Kodachrome. I think the prints are actually more beautiful.
For me, digital printing has brought back the joy of the darkroom without the drudgery of standing over the chemistry. I really feel that it has rejuvenated me as a photographer. I love the darkroom, but in recent years it has been so hard to support my-self and also spend enough time in the darkroom. Being able to sit down at the computer in odd moments and make digital prints lets me be productive again as a photographic printmaker. -- As told to Russell Hart