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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Make A B&W Digital Darkroom

A master photographer needs a master darkroom. We’ll guide you through the key tools you need in the digital age.

Labels: SoftwareGearPrintersPaper
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Red River UltraPro Satin
Hahnemühle (www.hahnemuehle.com) offers a range of fine-art inkjet papers. For black-and-white, recommendations include Photo Rag Bright White 310 gsm, featuring a smooth matte finish with a very bright white for good contrast and detail; William Turner 190 gsm or 310 gsm, a 100% cotton mould-made paper with a texture that gives a unique rustic look to a black-and-white image; and FineArt Baryta 322 gsm, a glossy medium with extremely high density and excellent gray tones.

Ilford Galerie (www.ilford.com) is a name well known to black-and-white darkroom workers, and today it appears on a fine line of inkjet papers. Galerie Prestige Gold Cotton Smooth is a good choice for monochrome landscapes, as well as color work. The mould-made 100% cotton-rag base is manufactured in a traditional paper mill. Designed for pigment inks, the archival-quality paper contains no optical brighteners and comes in sheets up to 13x19 inches and rolls up to 50 inches wide. Galerie Prestige Fine Art Smooth is an alpha-cellulose-based paper with similar characteristics and "look," but can be used with dye-based as well as pigment inks. Galerie Gold Mono Silk was designed specifically for black-and-white printing with dye- or pigment-based inks (providing richer blacks with dye-based), producing rich blacks and bright whites with smooth tonal transitions in between. It's available in sheets up to 17x22 inches and rolls up to 50 inches wide.

Print quality is a product of the printer, inks and paper working together. One of the bigger challenges of digital printing is to get the print to match what you see on screen. Since the monitor image produced is completely differently than the print image, they never will match perfectly. But a key to getting them as close as possible is the ICC profile. A profile describes how a monitor or printer produces color. Your printer comes with profiles for its manufacturer's papers built in (when you choose the paper type, you're selecting a profile), and profiles for third-party papers are generally available for download from the manufacturers. Using the appropriate profile (paper setting on the printer) will help produce the best possible results, in color or monochrome.
Moab by Legion (moabpaper.com) offers a wide range of quality papers. Good choices for black-and-white printing include Entrada Rag Natural 300, Slickrock Metallic Pearl 260 and the new Slickrock Metallic Silver 300. Entrada Rag Natural 300 is a warm-toned, 100% cotton heavyweight paper that produces deep blacks and a very wide tonal range for a matte paper, popular with fine-art photographers. Slickrock Metallic Pearl 260 features a high-gloss surface, metallic/pearlescent luminescence and a huge Dmax, producing deep blacks with lots of detail. The newest member of the Moab family, Slickrock Silver is the first true-metallic, instant-dry, fine-art inkjet paper on the market, very forgiving for reproducing fine-art black-and-white prints with a reflective metallic enhancement.

Red River (www.redrivercatalog.com) recommends matte, satin, luster and semigloss media for landscapes and nature images to maximize detail. Warm-toned papers work better for wildlife and warm scenes, cool-toned papers for snowscapes and the like. UltraPro Satin (warm tone) and Arctic Polar Satin or Luster (cool tone) work well, as does 60 lb. Polar Matte (also cool tone). San Gabriel SemiGloss Fiber fine-art paper gives the look of darkroom prints from bygone days, while Aurora Art White and Aurora Art Natural provide cool and warm tones, respectively, with a 100% cotton base.


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