Photographs by Frank

30 October 2010

Black and White Landscapes – Revisited

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Frank @ 11:24 AM

I  have a new tool, an ink-jet printer… it is not a toy, no matter what Joan says! She seems to believe that adage “The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.” Not me… I’m sticking with “tool”!

One of my main motivations in making this purchase was to get a printer with multiple “black”  (i.e. black and two shades of gray) inks. This enables one to print true black and white images.

My old printer, which is four or five years old, is still working fine but it has only one black ink, among a bevy of colored inks. This means that even “black and white” images are printed using the color inks and this makes it essentially impossible to get truly neutral shades of gray out of it. Despite my best efforts (including building, refining and re-refining custom profiles for each paper) all my black and white prints made with this printer had an ever so slight green cast to them.

Actually, until I directly compared some of these old prints to ones from the new printer, I thought that they were perfectly  neutral… and they are very close  in some light (i.e. day light) and not so close in other light (e.g. fluorescent light). Ugh! But such is the nature of the beast. The old printer is simply not the right tool for creating black and white prints. However, the new printer is a perfect tool  for black and white printing.

The ability to print “real” black and white has caused me to go back though my images and rework some of them before printing them with the new tool. All of these images, which were captured in the last roughly four years, were originally presented as black and white images but I went back to the original color files to rework them.

The reason for this is two-fold. The software tools for processing images gets better (and more complicated) with time and my skills in using the tools also, hopefully, gets better as well!

So, here are a half dozen landscapes that I have reprocessed and printed in the last few weeks. Some of them are significantly different from the older versions and some very similar, so much so that the small electronic versions displayed here will not look different from the older versions. However, the prints from all of them are much, much better than I could have done with the old printer.

In closing, I am reminded of a quote from Ansel Adams (Wikipedia entry). Old Saint Ansel,  perhaps the most famous landscape photographer even a quarter century after his death, was purported to say:

“The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.”

I think that this is still (maybe even more) true in the digital age. Not only can we reprint images as our skills improve and the tools change, but we can reprocess our “negatives” … the original (raw) file… as well!


1 Comment

  1. Another genre for you in which to dabble – B&W! And, you do it extremely well.
    The new printer with its variety of blacks/grays will certainly add to the impact of your prints but it’s your eye for the right ones to convert to B&W that is essential.

    Of the group – Mt. Adams get my vote as most favorite.

    Comment by Just Joe — 30 October 2010 @ 1:38 PM

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