Ember Razement ________________________________ The Fine Art Photography of Malcolm Smith

 

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PRINT Production
WHY BLACK AND WHITE
BLACK & WHITE & COLOUR
TONING

PRINTS - PURCHASING MY FINE ART PRINTS

Collectors interested in purchasing one or more of my fine art black and white prints should initially e-mail me for a price with the image details and an indication of size and mounting required.  Most images can be produced on A4, A3, A3+ and A2 sizes and are printed on extremely high quality heavy fine art inkjet papers with archival pigment inks (see notes below).  All images will be limited to editions of 20 prints regardless of size.  All photographs are now digitally produced either from a direct digital camera image or via scanning of the original film frame. All prints are signed and numbered below the image on the print paper.

Prints can be purchased by themselves, matted, matted and framed and with several boxed as a portfolio (housed in a museum quality portfolio box).  Matted prints are mounted on four ply museum quality archival rag board (usually Bainbridge Alpha Rag Artcare) with substantial archival mylar photo corners and matted with the same rag board.

The price of the initial eight prints and later prints in an edition will increase as shown:

EDITION Serial No PRICE INCREASE
1-8 As listed>
9-12 Listed + 10%
13-15 Listed + 30%
16-17 Listed + 60%
18 Listed + 100%
19 Listed + 150%
20 Listed + 200%

 

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PRINT PRODUCTION - WHAT MAKES A HIGH QUALITY INK JET PRINT

High quality ink jet prints sometimes called Giclee prints (a fancy name pronounced “gee – klay” and thought to be derived from the French words Gicler (splash, spurt) and Gicleur (nozzle, jet) – see The Penguin French Dictionary).  They have been available for some decades to reproduce art works (paintings, etchings, lithographs and photographs) initially from scanned hard copy versions of a work but increasingly from direct digital work created by the artist on a computer or taken with a digital camera.

What differentiates one of these prints from work printed on a home ink jet printer is a combination of the following ingredients:

  • Eight to twelve archival pigment inks comprising many colours, gloss and matt (flat) blacks and several greys.  The range of colours gives a much wider colour gamut (range of printable colours) than traditional four colour images in books etc.
  • Archival papers that will hold and protect the image and which will not form acids to attack the inks.  Many of these papers are produced by companies who have made fine art papers for artists for many hundreds of years (eg Hannemuhle, Arches and Canson) however these papers have surfaces especially designed for ink jet inks.
  • High tech printers with advanced ink jet nozzle technology and high resolution.  Usually these printers are bigger than home desk top ink jet printers and you may see them described as WIDE FORMAT PRINTERS
  • Colour calibration of the system (printer and computer monitor) so that the colours seen on the computer screen are the same as produced on the printer.  This is called profiling and is applied to the computer screen and each type of paper and ink combination used and should be carried out using a photometer and specialized software regularly (eg every four weeks).
  • A digital image file with high resolution capable of taking advantage of the high printer resolution and with wide colour gamut.  Usually this file will be a sixteen bit colour file with no compression (as opposed to a compressed lossy eight bit file such as a jpeg).
Scanned film image - original was a lith print awarded Gold National Professional Photography Awards 2000

Scanned film image - original was a lith print
awarded Gold at the national Australian
Professional Photography Awards 2000 © M.Smith

I use a 12 ink Canon IPF5000 capable of printing up to A2 paper size for my fine art prints.

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WHY BLACK AND WHITE

Why black and white when we live in a world of colour – many people conclude that now that colour is here we don’t need black and white and that colour is better.  However there are many reasons why both collectors and photographers still look favourably on black and white as an art form including:

  • Tradition – carrying on the look of the great Black and White work done before colour processing arrived on the scene;
  • Some images just look better in black and white (and some, of course, look better in colour);
  • The contrast of the resulting Black and White image can be increased further than on a colour image resulting in a “snappier” looking print; and
  • There are lots more techniques for creative control available in black and white.

The Macquarie Dictionary describes “Chiaroscuro” as Pictorial art employing only light and shade and this is a good definition of Black and White photographic art.

Of factors listed I believe that contrast is the most important in making a black and white image superior.  Contrast is the relationship of the tones within a picture – a small range of grays is low contrast and a large from black to white is high contrast – photographers talk about a flat picture or a contrasty one.  Contrast in a print is a result of contrast inherent in the image being recorded by the camera (the lighting) and the contrast changes made in processing (developing film/paper and processing in a computer with a program like Photoshop).  Contrast control enables the photographer to emphasis (and de-emphasis) lines and texture and to change the mood of an image.  Photographers became very adept at producing black and white images which had great impact (snap) through contrast control

In producing a print using a program such as Photoshop contrast can be adjusted overall and then adjusted further in smaller areas of the image that can benefit from it.  The control of the whole image in this way is far superior to that which could be achieved in the wet darkroom (traditional photographic printing using film and an enlarger and developing in chemicals).

 

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BLACK AND WHITE AND COLOUR

Are Black and White prints really black and white?  Unlike black and white film all the images I record on my digital cameras reach the computer as full colour images.  Even when the various colour luminances are converted to shades of gray the image is still in colour space (ie the gray is formed by the computer mixing Red, Green and Blue) and we call this being in a RGB colour space.  This conversion of the colours to shades of gray is where some of the contrast control occurs.

On the other hand scanned black and white film images which, of course, have no “colour” information, start life (after scanning) as a 16bits/channel greyscale image (ie non colour and in a non RGB colour space.).  My first step is to change this by moving the image into a RGB colour space but, of course, still in shades of gray.

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Example of a sepia toned image of a dancer

Sepia Toned Dancer © M.Smith

TONING – BLACK AND WHITE PLUS COLOUR

When being processed using a computer and a program like Photoshop it is a simple process to add in some controlled colour to the shades of gray image.  This is often done for several reasons:

  • This toning can be carried out for creative visual or artistic reasons or to duplicate the colour of toned wet darkroom prints (for example sepia and selenium toners).  Sometimes the wet darkroom prints would be toned in more than one toner resulting in what was called split toning (where the highlights take on one tone and the darks another) and this can also be done digitally
  • Another aspect is how an image “sits” on a particular paper can also depend on adding very small amounts of colour.  The best looking “black and white” photographs in books for example are usually printed as duotones or tritones which add one or two additional colours in very small amounts to the black inks which greatly improves the image appearance (although when not being directly being compared with an image printed with only black inks the duotones also look black and white).  The fundamental reason for this is that papers are never “white” and this is often described as their having a warm or cool look.  A print on a warm paper could benefit from having a minute amount of red added.
  • There are several techniques I don’t use.  One is where a the black and white image can be hand coloured by painstakingly painting back colours into the image.  This can be very effective and result in images like the hand coloured images of old.  Another is where the colour, say of an individual flower in a group in a vase, could have the original colour reinstated.  Both are done for creative purposes.

Digitally these points can be addressed with very fine control and superior to that achievable in the wet darkroom.  I do the first two in producing my fine art prints.

 

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