Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Photographic Practice : The Print Principle
I have been lazy. I have not printed a decent image for over 18 months, yes, that's one and a half years (!) Don't get me wrong, I have taken lots of photographs in that period, but I admit, I have not properly printed a proof or exhibition print till today. What a revival feeling it brought!
3 years ago, I purchased a used Epson R1800 photo printer from Michael Freeman, and boy it was a brilliant machine, capable of printing 13" x 19" prints with archival colour inks. It sits sadly on one side of my study, untouched for that long, whilst I happily churned away with mediocre stuff on my HP all-in-one desktop printer, that's even got wireless connectivity.
This afternoon, for fear of clogged print heads damaging the Epson, I took myself to task of resurrecting 'the machine' and ran a sample A4 word document through it. It sort of made all the correct noises, beeping and clicking like a bleeding R2D2, and finally the paper was spewed out at the front...nothing...just very feint lines of blue, red and black spots..arrgh! Nevertheless, I persevered and ran two, no three cleaning cycles on it, before it produced a perfect test print. That took over 30 minutes.
I still have 3 boxes of A3 matt-heavyweight paper stacked under my desk, so I decided to make proof prints of some of my photographs from my current 'on-going' (yea, for 4 years) project titled LUMINA ( watch out for it, its a stunner, he says).
Well., the boy's pleased. I'm a happy bunny and all that.
Colours were slightly off, needs tweaking, but who cares, for now. I remembered Ralph Gibson saying in a workshop with him in 2002 that he often makes rough prints of his works and sticks them on his wall, and everyday, he would stare at them, until he gets bored, trying to understand each image, as he makes some more. Perhaps I'll make a point of doing just that. Images that dwell in hard drives and memory cards are next to useless. You make them and forget about them. I have tons of these, and only revert to good memory to pick them out, despite a fairly efficient filing system I have developed.
The other thing to note is this.
Camera manufacturers are constantly shoving up our noses with higher megapixel counts, 5 million, 7 million, 10 million, 13 million, 21 million, 24 million,..and, like suckers, we consumers only know one thing, the bigger, higher, more..the better and we are slurping these machines up like there's no tomorrow. Yes, big is good, for commercial photographers who print posters.
When was the last time you made a large print?
I mean, large, not 5" x 7" or 8" x 10". No, not A4 or A3 even. Earlier this year, I selected 4 of my black and white architectural studies taken in a French monastery last year to be enlarged to about 1 m x 1.5 m, something like 3 feet x 5 feet to grace a showroom wall in KL. The resolution was stunning at that size and the original files came from a 5-million pixel camera. At first, I had reservations about going that large but after some initial patch testing, I thought it would hold up, and it certainly did. I hope the ID guy was pleased.
A good 8 - 10 MP DSLR would be sufficient to produce a typical magazine spread ie. A3 size, and depending on the quality of lens resolution you have, you can go larger. I did say DSLR, and not compact digitals of equivalent MP count. These are just not in the same league due to technical constraints of sensors but I won't go into all that.
So, my take is this. If all you are ever going to do are 5"x 7"s and the occasional A4 or A3 prints, you could save a packet by looking out for older DSLRs, from 2 or 3 years ago, around 6 - 8 MPs, and smile!