Once upon an analog era, your initiation for entry into the hallowed red safe-lighted inner sanctum of the serious photographer began with a loaded film tank, developer, fixer, and strictly maintained 68 degree water. Black and white ruled. The darkroom was Ansel Adams’ domain, his Zone System requiring meticulous study and note taking. Tone in the print was paramount for depth and shape. Dynamic range for pop. I had little patience even if entranced with the magical appearance of an image on the paper emerging in the dimly lit space.
My color work began with the new Cibachrome photographic paper as that was the first to offer relative permanence in a direct print from slides. Exposures were very long and with something called reciprocity setting in control became extremely difficult. Bad color, no detail in the shadows. But the color was often brilliant too. Eventually, my print mastery would be recognized by the Swiss company Ilford in its International Cibachrome Grant competition. Then when Epson first used the designation Photo for one of its inkjet printers, I bought a computer. With the 35mm film now scanned at the highest possible resolutions though, I continued to use a LightJet digital laser printer for a truly photographic (light exposure) exhibition print. Not only did that provide an incredible sharpness, and at increased sizes, but more importantly the level of control was better than what I might have dreamed. In layers to deconstruct the image for hue, saturation, and luminance, often separately for portions of an image, completely correct relationships for color and tone are achieved. With a multiplicity of technique, I might spend uncounted hours. The mind's eye of experience in looking is a crucial ingredient. For example, the result may be a brightness of light on the surface of a lake that is manifest, the depth in a color object or scene becomes evident. In 2002 this work was featured in Mastering Digital Printing, the first real textbook published on this subject.
I changed again once Epson replaced its dye based inks with stable pigments, and archival papers for photography soon followed. The ten ink printers enable a color subtlety which can encompass the film’s entire gamut. Now you can see all the detail and range of color of that original slide. All prints are made on the latest Epson Stylus Pro 7900 using the Ultrachrome HDR ink set. They are, more simply, pigment prints.
But in it all, my artistic foundation is still based in the historical pureness of photography.
The Reimagine New England Suite is a limited edition portfolio of forty-eight 24x30 inch prints, each with its original poem printed on the interleaf. With the size, the effect remains sharply true to a wonderful photographic realism at the viewing distance, while the choice of fine art Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper invites a closer inspection for the more painterly “brush-work”. The FujiFilm Velvia of the originals contributes the mellow intensity of an Impressionist's palette. Individual prints are also available, and in a 24x36 size too. An Epson Legacy Baryta paper is used here for its extraordinarily lustrous surface enhancing the image's presence at this size. Both sizes are mat framed by the gallery at 30x40 with a variety of frames selected to give homage to their plein air roots.
The Boston Color series, in keeping with the classic modern era of the Kodachrome film used, are printed a smaller 17x22 on Epson Legacy Platine 100% cotton paper. This long-awaited paper has recently reached what is considered the "holy grail" of former darkroom printers for its verisimilitude to the preferred surface of that time for fine art photographs. The 21x27 matted frame is a simply sculpted modern silver to balance the effect.
The Crappy Negatives series are 17x22 tint printed B&W photographs on Epson Signature Hot Press Natural fine art paper with an image size of 10x14. Matted to reveal title and signature, their black wood 17x22 frames range simple to more complex to enhance the individual photograph.
Polachrome – the Beautiful Images Project is printed at 24x36 to fully appreciate the uniqueness of the film's texture especially the very thin color lines it utilizes instead of a typical film "grain". The new Epson Legacy Fibre fine art paper used, considered by many the best matte paper for photography ever produced, enhances the effect with its own very finely textured surface. The Polaroid color palette is also preserved. For full appreciation the print is shadow box framed 24x36 with Tru Vue museum glass to virtually disappear. Also, a 17x22 limited custom portfolio of the "12+1" prints with documentation is available.
All papers are archival rated to 200 and 400 plus years.
Mastering Digital Printing – Harald Johnson, 1st ed. Muska & Lipman, 2002