I began making inkjet negatives and positives in 2004. Prior to that film was created by shooting negatives in camera or by enlargement. Enlarged film was made by making test strips and using the variables of film type, developers, additives, agitation, water baths, burning and dodging, flashing, film masks, and toning, among other options, to achieve a beautiful film negatives or positives. This process could easily take an entire day. The most important aspect of creating both film and prints was and still is the practitioner’s eye.
Working with the system I developed for making inkjet film, I find it impossible to tell the difference between an alternative process print made from gelatin silver film or digital inkjet film. The system uses Quad Tone Rip (QTR), a dedicated set of black and white Piezography inks and Curve Calculator 3 (CC3), an ingenious software program designed by Mark Nelson for crafting digital positives and negatives. I was the first to put these components together and have been using this method with no need for major modifications for 12 years. From the QTR program I am able to quickly create film of any density required for any contact print process. After a little practice it takes around 15 minutes to create a film profile for your process. The benefit of crafting a profile as opposed to using canned profiles found on alternative process web sites on the internet or supplied by manufacturers is the incredible control over the quality of the film output. This method works for all contact print processes. It takes into account the photographers equipment, paper, chemistry and environment. Canned profiles can not do this. Using a canned profile is comparable to a large format photographer shooting film for platinum printing and then handing the film off to a lab for processing. Not likely! The icing on the cake is the production of incredibly delicate process adjustment curves using Curve Calculator 3 software. No turnkey system, printer right out of the box, or canned profiles can possibly compare.
If you are frustrated and have been struggling making prints from digital negatives you should take a workshop! Freshman at RISD who have never made a print learned this process quickly.
Renaissance Press Workshops comprehensively cover the technique of making beautiful inkjet negatives and positives. The information is delivered clearly and concisely. Detailed handouts accompany all workshops.
For students who do have the inclination to create film profiles, custom profiling is offerred at a nominal charge.