I began working with digital film in 2004. I did not want to. I had to. As large format orthochromatic film began disappearing from the market my involvement in digital film became a necessity. After testing almost every printer and ink combination on the market I ended choosing an Epson printer and Piezography inks. The inks gave me the smoothest tonal transitions, were texturally the finest, and the printed negatives and positives images came closer to mimicking black and white film than any other system I had tested. In the day of film, one would make test strips and use the variables of film types, developers, additives, agitation, water baths, burning and dodging, flashing, film masks, and toning, among other options, to achieve a beautiful film negative or positive. It could take a full day and then some to make a beautiful film image. The most important aspect of creating film was the practitioner’s eye. It still is. With the workflow I developed I find it impossible to tell the difference from an alternative process print made from either silver film or digital film. The system I developed uses Quad Tone Rip (QTR) and a dedicated set of black and white piezography inks. From the QTR program I am able to quickly create film of any density range necessary for any contact print process. The benefit of crafting a film linearization 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 film output. The results are customized to the photographers process and working environment. The film density range can be dialed in with precision. If you want a film positive or negative with a range of 1.55, it’s yours. If you want to delve into the minutia and go for a density range of 1.58, 1.8, 1.84 and so on, with little effort it’s yours. Quad Tone Rip not only allows you to choose a precise density range for your film but it also allows you to bend the range so the film is not only dialed in to the specified density range, but is also “pre-curved” for your process. The icing on the cake is the production of incredibly delicate process adjustment curves using software created by Mark Nelson, Precision Digital Negatives. The process adjustment curve can applied to the image as a layer or added to the Quad Tone Rip profile. For many this may sound complicated. Freshman at RISD that have never been in a darkroom, a printmaking studio, used Photoshop or have never seen photogravures, platinum prints, or cyanotypes learned this process quickly.
Renaissance Press Workshops comprehensively cover the techniqe of making beautiful inkjet film positives and negatives. The theory can be applied to any contact print photographic process. You will leave with not only a handout detailing the steps of profile creation in QTR but also an entire set of profiles keyed in for the Epson 3880, 4880, 7880, and 9880 line of printers. You will have the knowledge to build your own QTR profiles, but you will not need to do so unless you want to. If you are using a different line of Epson printer you will have learned how to create profiles at the workshop and the comprehensive tutorial will guide you through profile creation. The final step in the process is the creation of curves to tweak the profiles to fit your working environment and materials. I understand many do not want to become overly involved in the making of profiles and curves. We really want to make art! For workshop students who do not want to create their own curves I will offer the service of creating curves from your printed stepwedge for a nominal fee. The theory learned can easily be transferred to standard Epson K3 inks.