Getting Ready

It’s been crunch time here over the last week as we get into the last two weeks before the opening of the exhibition at the RMSP gallery. While a more sensible person would have outsourced the printing and framing of their work for an exhibition I wanted to do all of it myself so that I would have at least had the experience of doing it at least once. As it turned out I quite enjoyed the process, although it was indeed work.

Frames and mats came from American Frame. The UPS driver that comes to our house is now used to the weird and wonderful things that he has to deliver to us and so the 6 boxes of frames were no big deal.

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I went with glass rather than plexi and sourced that from a local glazier. I also ended up having to get a full ink set for the 7900. Fortunately EP Levine is not too far away and all too easy to visit.

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I had done a reasonable amount of printing on the 7900 with cut sheets but this was the first time that I had used roll paper in a serious way. For this exhibition I used Breathing Color’s Optica One that I stock piled when it was on sale earlier in the year. It’s a heavier paper and has a more neutral color than Epson Ultrasmooth that I had favored up to this point.

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I don’t have a big layout table where I do the printing and so ended up co-opting the dining table for the framing work.

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I was quite pleased with how the framed prints came out. I’m looking forward to having a couple of these on the walls here.

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I used the same packaging that the frames came in to ship the framed images off to RMSP, although I did use blue painters tape to help reinforce the glass and hopefully hold the pieces together if it breaks. I don’t even want to think about that!

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I’ll be posting more about the exhibition in the coming weeks. If you’re going to be in Missoula over the summer please do stop by and check out the exhibit. I’d be interested in your feedback.

In Service of the Print

Winter Trees

‘Not every printer is a great photographer, every great photographer is a great printer’

Ansel Adams

I came across the quote attributed to Ansel Adams a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t help but wonder whether this is really true today. There have been seismic changes in photography and technology in the last 10 or so years – the shift to digital, decent cameras in most mobile phones, great tablet devices and on and on – that makes me wonder what was true when Ansel Adams made his comment is still true today.

How many people feel the need to print? Sure not people who are stock photographers. They deliver their content to the stock agencies digitally and it is further distributed digitally. Wedding photographers? Again another example of a group that are focused on high quality with high productivity, that would most likely today have some if not all content delivered digitally with the remaining photographs and associated wedding books printed by specialty print services. Editorial photographers, similar story – digital delivery to their editors.

Does this mean that these photographers are not ‘great’? Of course not. The successful photographers in these fields have exacting standards that when coupled with creativity and a capacity for hard work has been the foundation for their success.

So is Ansel’s comment still relevant today? I think so but we should modify it slightly – ‘Every great fine art photographer is a great printer’.

It’s never been easier to print your own photographs. Prices of really good ink jet prints have dropped precipitously and are well within the range of most serious amateurs. There are a huge range of ‘substrates’, papers and other specialty surfaces, available for printing. The standard printer drivers and paper profiles give good results without needing tweaking. Finally there are a tremendous range of resources available to help you along the way – George DeWolfe’s Book ‘George DeWolfe’s Digital Photography Fine Print Workshop‘ is one that I would particularly recommend. It’s quite possible then for us all to make good prints and with a commitment to the craft even some great ones.