Do You Scan & Print or Darkroom Print

Discussion in 'Talk About Digital Printing' started by Ian-Barber, Aug 8, 2016.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    I am quite interested to hear whether you scan and inkjet pint your final work or are you strictly darkroom through and through
     
  2. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    50
    Trophy Points:
    60
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    None (retired)
    Location:
    Sussex - but originally from Wakefield.
    Quick answer: scan and inkjet print. I have a permanent darkroom with two enlargers set up on the bench, but it only gets used as a darkroom now for loading my film holders and developing tanks.

    I first started looking at the inkjet route when we bought our first photographic quality inkjet printer; up to that time we'd used a daisywheel (anyone remember them?) and a black and white laser printer. My first efforts were failures, because in those days black and white prints (and I'm a black and white photographer) from inkjet printers always had colour casts. I got the most neutral results using cheap photocopier paper, but this did have some drawbacks in terms of overall print quality ;). I tried using a replacement mono ink set with a CIS with good results, but backed the wrong horse and found the inks discontinued - an experience which has put me off CIS ever since.

    Then Epson brought out the 2400 which did manage neutral black and white prints; this was a great step forward. I also fractured my right elbow about 10 years ago (I'm mainly right handed) which resulted in a different sort of cast for a couple of months and difficulty in bending my arm for much longer. This meant that on the one hand (pun if you wish) I had problems loading a negative carrier in what I considered a negative-safe manner, and in using the darkroom equipment. My Nova tank was drained (and eventually placed in a cupboard) and inkjet printing became my norm.

    These days I'm using an Epson 3880, which lets me print up to 16x20 which is larger than any conventional print I'd made (12x16 was my largest print). It's an admission of incompetence I know (in some circles anyway) to admit that my inkjet prints are at least as good as my best conventional ones, and invariably better than my also rans. I have far greater control over local tones and contrast than I could manage in a darkroom, and less problems with dust on the negative (and negative carrier glass). I just feel that I have more control over the whole process.

    I know from other forums that for many the whole process is what matters - at least amongst those who favour film. For me, the fun comes from finding the image and making the exposure and looking at the print afterwards. Everything in between those two points is the unpleasant bit. Which is perhaps why I never excelled as a darkroom printer.
     
  3. martin henson

    martin henson Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    120
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Otley West Yorkshire
    Purists will argue I suppose about scan and digital printers and I can understand in some ways why that's the case, however for the sake of art form I see nothing wrong in a Hybrid approach.
    I sell prints from my web site, no one asks was this made with film and printed in the darkroom or is it Digital capture and print, they see what they like and buy.

    Its all about the image at the end of the day, a good darkroom print will beat a Digitally printed one, but it works both ways
     
  4. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    The Epson R3880 is the printer I currently use and although it has given me some issues in the past whereby I had to change the ink delivery system, the quality from it is outstanding especially for black and white.

    I am a firm believer of the Epson ABW driver and now that the Epson Print Layout program is available for both Mac and Windows, it enables me to see what the print from the ABW actually looks like prior to pressing the print button.
     
  5. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    50
    Trophy Points:
    60
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    None (retired)
    Location:
    Sussex - but originally from Wakefield.
    I'd suggest that that depends on the printer - in both senses of the word. I know that I get better prints digitally than I ever did in a darkroom. It's one piece of technology that has deskilled the process to the extent that I can cope with it. It's said that you can't get the same extended tonal range with silver prints as you can with platinum/palladium - and Frederick Evans stopped printing when the war (the first world war) meant he couldn't get the materials he needed.

    For me, looking at the final print, it's a simple choice - inkjet or pay someone to print to the same or higher standard in a darkroom.

    As far as I recall, in "Way Beyond Monochrome" the only listed downsides to inkjet prints were the questions over archival quality; it was stated that tonal separation in both highlights and shadows were better with inkjet.
     
  6. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    I read many articles on paper lightfast tests and the ones with no OBA included really do seem to give some exceptional results when used in conjunction with pigment types inks
     
  7. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    50
    Trophy Points:
    60
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    None (retired)
    Location:
    Sussex - but originally from Wakefield.
    One of the problems with longevity is that for inkjet prints, it seems to be extrapolation from simulated aging, which is probably fine if you can be sure that all factors have been included. On the other hand, I also take the "conventional prints have lasted 100 years plus" with a grain of salt, since the papers and materials used aren't the same as we're using today. Unless you're really doing it all yourself, of course.
     
  8. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    Maybe Brooks Jensen from Lenswork has the right idea and let the prints live for today, be handled and viewed in your personal space. At the end of the day, if they get damaged, they can always be reprinted.
     
  9. Mathieu Bauwens

    Mathieu Bauwens Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    51
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Brussels, belgium
    Home Page:
    I only do prints from my darkroom; I don't like to use my computer to do that work, I realy need to have my hands on it, feelings I do not find with a computer screen.
     
  10. martin henson

    martin henson Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    120
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Otley West Yorkshire
    I totally agree with you, I do miss my darkroom, trouble I have with a recent move is the space to set up another, one day maybe,
    Correctly scanned and printed with the inkjet can give very good results, the downside is every print is the same unlike a darkroom where every repeated print is different in someway and quite unique.
     
  11. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    I scan and print digitally, and work in the analog darkroom. IMO, they each have advantages and disadvantages. I have a few very lovely B&W inkjet prints hanging on the walls of my home that, IMO, could not have been made better in the wet darkroom. Conversely, I have many 8x10 contact prints that would rival any inkjet print. One thing I will say about silver printing that I haven't seen in 16 years of producing digital inkjet prints is that if the silver print is produced by a skilled craftsmen, it will display a feeling of light (like it's emanating from the paper) that ink just cannot reproduce. I say this after nearly 40 years of wet darkroom printing experience and 16 years of inket printing where, in the past, I was part of a small group of photographers who experimented with mixing our own inks! In the past, I have used printing software that allowed one to control each printhead and how ink was laid down on the paper through custom curves. I guess I'm saying I know a little bit about B&W inkjet printing and feel confident in making comparisons between inkjet and darkroom prints.

    Thanks for the great discussion!
     
  12. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    I am interested to hear more about your inkjet printing Alan as this is a subject which is close to my heart as I don't have a darkroom.

    What printer(s) are you currently using and your software and paper choice for producing your black and white prints
     
  13. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Nothing fancy nowadays because I actually print more in the wet darkroom than I do on the desktop. But, to answer your question...

    I use an Epson 3880 and usually print on either Ilford Gold Fibre Silk, Canson Baryta Photographique, or Epson Exhibition Fiber. Choice of paper greatly depends on the image to be printed, since each of these papers have their own characteristics--surface texture, warmth/coolness, etc. When I first started using the 3880, I printed all my B&W via ABW, but in recent times I've been printing "color" (using good paper profiles) because I like to tone my B&W's different ways, again based on the image.

    If you really wanted to get seriously into your B&W printing nowadays I'd recommend QuadTone RIP and a custom inkset like Piezography. But, be forewarned that taking this path is a serious commitment because you're going to have to understand how to build profiles, linearize your printer, etc.

    Hope this helps.
     
  14. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    I have already spent countless hours getting to grips with QuadTone Rip but to be honest, Linearizing the curves just never seemed to work for me which I put down to using the X-Rite Color Munki for measuring the patches.

    Martin uses ImagePrint and swears by it especially for its neutrality and library of profiles for both colour and black and white but its not a cheap package to buy.
     
  15. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Yep, exactly why I stopped using QuadTone RIP and moved to IJC/OPM. But, even that became somewhat onerous so I moved to ImagePrint. Overall, I'd recommend IP over any other means to print either B&W or color. But, all this was back when I had an Epson 2200; I just couldn't justify the cost for IP for my 3880.
     
  16. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    112
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Doncaster
    Home Page:
    With your 3880 and for say neutral prints (not toned) , are you now using ABW or printing through a colour profile
     
  17. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Generally, if I'm going for a totally neutral print I'll print through ABW because I've found that I get just a tad more shadow detail this way.
     
  18. Dave_P

    Dave_P New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2016
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sheffield
    Home Page:
    I scan and get my prints commercially printed (lightjet, chromira, that type of wet processed print). I run an Imacon Precision II with a dedicated SCSI-capable Mac G5. No interest whatsoever in owning and operating my own inkjet, seems like a huge cash and time blackhole (I know this sounds a bit rich coming from a large format shooter).

    I would try enlarger printing but I've not got the space till the kids leave home (at least 15 years to wait) although I have contact printed some 5x4s in an improvised bathroom setup.
     
  19. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2016
    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Arizona, USA
    Dave,

    Have you ever considered pt/pd printing? A source of UV light (sun), contact printing frame, a few trays and chemistry, and you're good to go. No need for a darkroom.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  20. Dave_P

    Dave_P New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2016
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sheffield
    Home Page:
    I'm afraid I don't know jack squat about alternative processes. Do you just develop in daylight/roomlight then?

    Using the sun as a lightsource sounds interesting. But what happens if you want to print on one of the other 360 days each year? ;-)
     

Share This Page