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Archive for April, 2008

I am using Ron Reeder’s technique for printing digital negatives on the Epson SP4000 using Quad Tone RIP and standard Epson Ultrachrome inks. I am using the Matte Black as Ron indicated. At the start I did not print using the Unidirectional or 2880 dpi settings as Ron suggests in his article. In my experience the printing quality between the 1440 and 2880 is negligible to the naked eye at a standard viewing distance and the savings in ink is to my liking. Part way through a series of test prints, I decided to try one with the 2880 setting instead of 1440. To my surprise it made a difference but not in the way I would have expected. There was some perceptual difference in the quality of the negative. In particular there was a reduction in visible banding. Once I made a print from this negative, I also discovered two other differences. In the first, it appears that the densities are more linear with fewer spikes or divets in the curve. I assume this is due to a smoother printing of gradients from the increased dot resolution. The second difference was also in the density of the negative. I had expected that there would be an increase in density over the entire negative as there are more dots and therefore more ink being laid down. Lo and behold, the opposite is true. The density of the negative overall was reduced by about two thirds of a stop in exposure. I am surprised by this and do not understand the reason. If anyone out there has any insight to this, I am interested. I am also uncertain as to whether this reduction in density is an arithmetic or geometric one.

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I am reprinting this info here from Michael Koch-Schulte’s website RNP Array Digital Negatives because I find it extremely useful and also very difficult to locate anywhere else

Process logDensity
Silver Halide 1.6
Gum Bichromate .8 to 1.2
Cyanotype 1.2
Ware’s New Cyanotype 1.8 to 2.0
Platinum – Palladium 1.5 to 1.9 (as high a 2.9)
Albumen and Salt 2.4

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Well I am off on a new artistic exploration, seeking the truth to life the universe and everything. As with any grand aspirations, humble begins are the place from which to start. I began experimentation in creating digital negatives with an Epson Stylus Photo 960 using Pictorico OHP transparency film. I am printing on Crane’s Kid Finish Stationary for my tests. I will move to something more suitable once I am comfortable with this process. For an emulsion, I am using Mike Ware’s Cyanotype II recipe. Just as I was getting close with the Epson 960 I ran out of film. I went to Pro Photo Supply in Portland Oregon to purchase a new pack and lo sitting at the end of their consignment aisle was a used Epson Stylus Pro 4000 for $500. I have known that I would buy a better printer soon. I was just uncertain what to get, i.e 4880, 7880, 9880. For that kind of investment, I wanted to be certain I was getting exactly what I wanted. I was intrigued with this older yet much cheaper by almost $1500 model. However, I am usually not one to jump into something with out studying the pros and cons ad nauseum. So, as I was checking out, I spoke with the clerk. He gave me the basic run down. “The SP4000 isn’t good for Black and White printing, plus the new K3 inks reduce metamerism, bronzing, and gloss differential, etc.” I said, “Thanks and I will think it over.”

Now I go to my car and pull out my trusty 21st century digital swiss army knife, the iPhone. I fire up safari and start surfing for info on the SP4000. After considering the cost difference, I steeled my nerve and walked boldly into the store. “I’ll take it.” So with a full set of inks and a new to me SP4000, I drove triumphantly back to Eugene.

Setup as been fairly straight forward. I needed to replace all the ink carts as they were mostly empty and seriously out of date. I also need to update the firmware. Finally, I ran a serious of head cleanings. I started with the auto cleaning. It cleared of all of the heads except for the magenta. So I ran a power clean. Still this did not clear the magenta head. After hours of additional research, I decided to run a supersonic cleaning that is hidden in the hex dump menu on the SP4000. Still it did not clear the head. To this day there is a small patch on the magenta test print that is flawed.

I decided to print an actual photo and see if the magenta head clog was going to be a major factor. I was sweating my impulsive decision. After running a test print and comparing it to a standardized calibration image, I have decided to keep the printer as is. The print looked fine. There was a slight magenta cast to the print compared to the calibrated print. The image was not as neutral in tone. However, I did not see any evidence of banding or flaws in the print as I had expected from a clogged head. Perhaps the color casting is from the head clog but I am not convinced. Forward ho!

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