About the Prints

March 28, 2017


When this all started for me, in 1968, I really had no idea how far it could go, nor how long it would take to get there. Imagine color photographic prints being capable of the same power, finesse, sophistication and display life as any oil painting. Or even just imagine it working as well as the then current state of the art of B&W photography. Each were high bars well beyond the reach of chemical systems, but that didn't stop a few of us from trying as hard as we possibly could to make it happen. As we've slowly gained the ability to use numbers instead of chemicals, faint hope has flowered into a stunning maturity. Step by step, every issue has been addressed and arguably perfect color prints are now at least feasible, and I am frankly overwhelmed by how beautifully they turn out nearly every time that I make a print with my current systems.

The fade resistance of my mainstay combinations of ink and paper has recently nearly tripled from the prior best media, to the point where it can have a useful lifespan on display which actually does rival those of the world's most precious two-dimensional artwork. I gather from the guess of one key expert that these prints may outperform many van Goghs by as much as a factor of ten. (Vincent made my favorite body of two-dimensional artwork so I wasn't at all happy to learn that two red pigments he used are relatively highly ephemeral.) Paintings retain one big edge over nearly all photographic media: physical toughness. My favorite (and default) photographic printing media absolutely require very careful handling and good quality mounting and framing with glazing, to realize their potential of a multi-century lifespan in essentially pristine condition. Bare print display of any inkjet medium is out of the question if you want it to last more than a few years at best.

There are media developing now which do allow bare print display, and I offer one of them as the last of my eight choices of presentation — dye sub on metal. This interesting process doesn't have all the nuance, fine detail, feel of a precious artifact, and so on, that the inkjet prints do, and I can't make them myself, but it's got wonderful qualities for display without glazing, matting or framing. It's permanence with respect to light-induced color change is only about a quarter that of the prints I make with pigments on the superb cotton, inkjet-coated papers but the gamut is decent, the Dmax is unbelievably good and they are still roughly 25 times more resistant to fading than an ordinary poster. In stark contrast to the inkjet prints, these are ultra-high gloss. As a practical way to enjoy one of my images in a large size for most of a lifetime on indoor display, it's a good option. Within a few years, one other medium, UV-cured printing, which is very likely capable of long-term, bare print display, and relies on pigments instead of dyes — and thus will offer about the same fade resistance of the wonderful inkjet prints — may mature sufficiently for me to offer such prints instead.

Another wonderful, recent development is that I have returned to B&W after a 32-year hiatus. My systems are now capable of top notch quality in both color and B&W — camera, software, printing paper, inkset — they all work beautifully now for both. When using traditional, chemical systems for color work, doing B&W too was simply impractical, but now it's possible to have both to an unimpeachable quality level with no additional equipment burden whatsoever. The stunning prints I can make in B&W have not a single microscopic droplet of yellow ink in them, thus they have the bare minimum of cyan and magenta, as needed to precisely tint the tone scale of the three naturally warm-toned carbon inks, which means that the overall stability leaps much further still beyond the stunningly good performance of the color prints. These B&W prints are apt to look nearly perfect on indoor display for something like half of a millennium, but again only if well-framed to protect their fragile surfaces from UV light, airborne impurities and handling damage. Their subtle coloration is more finely controlled than has ever been possible with silver-gelatin or platinum printing and the prints are far less fragile with respect to the common problem of changing and/or overly high or low relative humidity, owing to the absence of gelatin. They also have better resistance to chemical assault than silver-gelatin, thanks to the absence of the silver. A close friend, who is perhaps more familiar with the entirety of the fine art photography industry than anyone else alive today, thought the sample print I showed him was the most beautiful B&W print he'd ever seen.

The prints I can now offer you are beautiful and mature to a degree I had never dared to expect.