This past weekend I attended a 2 day workshop on digital printing at Vancouver Photo Workshops with Marc Koegel who is the Director of VPW. Marc has worked and studied with many internationally acclaimed photographers, including Joe McNally, Greg Gorman, Jay Maisel, Arthur Meyerson, Mary Ellen Mark, and Ralph Gibson to name but a few and has also exhibited internationally in Europe and the United States, as well as locally in Canada.
The topics we covered during the two days were the following:
- What an ICC profile is
- How to generate custom printer and paper profiles
- When to resample and why
- What soft proofing is and why it is important
- How to print more than one image on a page
- Why resolution is important and how it affects your final output
- The difference between an Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB and sRGB color space
- When and how best to apply sharpening
- How to properly convert color to outstanding black-and white images
- How and Why to select a specific paper (or substrate) for a given image or series
- How best to calibrate your monitor and printer
- How inkjet printing compares to other printing methods, i.e. lightjet (lambda)
- A list of recommended equipment (calibration, monitors, printers etc)
- Mounting, framing and presentation options for your finished prints
The course was very informative even though Marc went off topic quite a bit, but even that was an additional learning aspect. We were given many opportunities to handle and inspect the results of prints on a variety of paper selections. Marc had prepared the same print on a large selection of photographic paper and even had the print made at two of the really cheap labs, so we were able to see the differences in tonality and depth of range through a large range of products. It was incredibly interesting to see how a paper type can affect the overall tonality of an image. The real take away about the ‘which photographic paper should I use’ saga really comes down to testing the image on a variety of papers and see what works well, and what you like best.
Marc demonstrated the best ways of resampling and soft proofing, providing valuable tips along the way. He and another student shared a good source for third party ink, although Marc personally does not use third party ink. The recommended site is Jon Cone’s Piezography which is chock-full of very useful tutorials on printing as well as links to Jon Cone’s refillable ink which is apparently of excellent quality according to the student who uses his products. His workshops were also recommended. Another reference source for colour management that was recommended was John Paul Caponigro. Caponigro also has a very wide range of tutorials on the more technical aspects of printing, but what I found rather intriguing is that he has a very broad reading list that he draws on for his creativity and these sources are also listed on his website.
Marc stepped us through some of the aspects of the Epson printers as these are his printers of choice. We had all submitted a few images to him and on the second day of the course Marc printed off a print for each of us, going through his workflow in Photoshop, evaluating the images, making adjustments to the images, going through the print process and finally producing the final images off his large format Epson printer. My Photoshop skills are really rusty so this turned out to be a good refresher for me, plus I also learned about some of the newer features (last time I used Photoshop was when it was version 6 – the pre CS days).
Apparently there is a process called ‘outgassing’ that takes places when a print comes off the printer. The inks literally blows off a bit of steam and the ink needs to dry and harden for a minimum of 30 minutes, but preferably overnight. This doesn’t occur when lightjet printers (the types of printers more commonly found at the 1 hour photo labs) are used as the prints are printed through a light process and then go through a full chemical process and are washed and dried before they come out of the printer.
These were two very full days with a lot of information imparted. At least I now know what I should communicate to a pro lab and how to experiment when I invest in a proper photo printer.
John Paul Caponigro [online]. Available from: http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/ [Accessed 12 January, 2016]
Piezography [online]. Available from: http://www.piezography.com/PiezoPress/ [Accessed 12 January, 2016]
Vancouver Photo Workshops [online]. Available from: http://www.vancouverphotoworkshops.com/ [Accessed 12 January, 2016]