I started in photography with a Deardorf large format camera and a black & white darkroom. I loved the alchemy of watching a print emerge in a tray of liquid emitting vapors of toxic fumes. It was, and must still be, simply magic.
However, once I began color photography and realized that it was my natural affinity, I left the wet darkroom behind. Perfecting the art of exposing for the limited dynamic range of transparencies consummed me; adding the distraction of color mystified me.
Yet, I never made color prints. I hated limited range of glossy or matte papers. I despised Cibachrome and other color printing processing; not even the complicated dye transfer process held my interest. My prints were from the four-color process of magazines and books. Then Arthur Meyerson had an exhibit of digital prints in Santa Fe (I can’t remember the year) and I knew a color printing revolution was amassing.
I tried working with various companies (Mac Holbert at Nash Editions is a genius) but realized that I needed to take control of the printing process myself. So I now have THE GRAYROOM, instead of The Darkroom (yes, the walls are 18% gray) and my own Epson and HP printers.
I had my first major show January of 2008 at the Verve Gallery in Santa Fe (see past posts) with over 50 images printed on a Epson 7800 (24″) and an HP Designjet 44″ Z3100 using Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White paper.
This summer I am printing for a new show, tentatively titled Outer India, to be hung at the Verve Gallery July 2010. Not only do I have a new printer — HP 44″ Designjet Z3200 (I bought it instead of the Epson 9900 which did not have the shadow detail that I crave), but I wanted a new paper with a greater D-Max. I am printing images in a different style with more de-saturated colors and deeper blacks. The rag papers with matte Ink give me the feel I want but not the deep, deep black tones. Picking a paper is very personal; it has to feel and look right to whomever is printing.
I researched the current fine-art gloss papers which have a “rag” feel and picked 5 papers: Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta, Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk, Innova FibaPrint Ultra Smooth Gloss, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Pearl, and Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper. Unfortunately I have not been able to get a profile for the Exhibition Fiber Paper (and I probably would have nixed it anyway since it only comes in sheets).
I printed out test sheets of various images on the four remaining papers. I don’t like the texture of the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Pearl so it was nixed. I loved the whiteness of the Innova paper, but it was too blue/white (and I should stay away from OBA whiteners for archival purposes). Ultimately, it was a tough choice between the Ilford and Hahnemuhle Baryta papers. However, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag has consistently been a great paper for me so I decided to stay with the brand. The luscious Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta won my confidence and heart (until a better paper comes my way).
Note: I get my papers from www.shadesofpaper.com Contact: Erik Mateer
© nevada wier. India, Nagaland. At the border.