Digital Negatives

I’ve been playing with the thought of making digital negatives for quite some time now. One day I’d think, hell yes that would be awesome, while the other day was more like, hell no, I prefer shooting negatives instead of inkjet-printing them. Since a couple of days I’m seriously considering this option.

The event that triggered me to look at this option in a more serious manner was the meeting I had with William Ingram the other day. He solely prints from digital negatives, platinum prints that is, and these were so awesome to look at I felt kind of baffled. This had a lot to do with the size of them, I have to admit, seeing that they were about 80 x 110cm (!). I am a sucker for large formats (photography/ paintings), always have been, and these were astonishing to behold.

However, just big and being useless in my workflow will not cut it either so I have managed to come up with a convincing argument for diving into this. I am starting to work with more contact printing processes such as albumen printing, Van Dyke process etc. and I have a ****load of 35mm and 120 film negatives laying around waiting to be printed (again). Only, traditional b+w printing is something I probably won’t ever go back to out of free will so this will give them a new purpose in life besides endlessly waiting on a bookshelf.

Another huge benefit is that I can make negatives of the same photo applicable for different processes as most of them require a specific d-max / density to get the most out of the print. Combine all of the above mentioned and I will be able to expand my workflow tremendously leaving me with even more possibilities to choose from (I already had very few). 😉

I (hopefully) have an option to buy a Epson R2880 pretty cheap so that’s my printer of choice. I hope to close the deal in the upcoming week. I’m still debating on which transparency film I’ll be working with, Agfa Copyjet, Inkpress or something, the first mentioned probably more easily available to me.
There are several options to fine-tune the workflow by using Quadtone Rip but I’m still looking into that as well. I’ve thought about following a workshop but maybe I’ll give it a go like this seeing that I can find a lot of information online, from books and from friends.

Anyway, I firstly want to improve my collodion negative-making skills but more will follow on this for sure!

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6 responses

  1. Indra, buy yourself an epson 7600 which can be found rather cheap and gives you a lot of flexibility regarding larger sizes. I am using one myself for the same purpose

    April 29, 2012 at 12:00

    • Hi Alex,

      The 7600 is only available second hand and I’d rather not buy a printer 2nd hand, especially no Epson. Their heads are just too expensive to replace when I buy a faulty one which could easily happen.
      The 2280 is great to start out with and learn the making of these negatives properly and fits in my darkroom without hassle. On top of that I have unlimited access to an Epson 9800 at work if I wish to go insanely large.

      I didn’t know you were into making digital negatives. Which printing process(es) do you use them for?

      -Indra

      May 1, 2012 at 17:38

  2. Looks like an interesting experiment. Best of luck with it.

    April 29, 2012 at 17:07

  3. Maurits

    Hey Indra, long time no see… Have you looked into Mark Nelson’s Precision Digital Negatives (PDN) workflow? I started trying this method a while back and the results were very pleasing. I mean, even my resulting plain silver wet prints on baryta were much nicer than a straight inkjet print from the same file. Much more photo-like. Platinum or Palladium would be awesome indeed… Maurits

    May 8, 2012 at 11:46

    • Hi Maurits,

      I can’t remember having met you before but that’s probably my bad…I see so many people and I forget a lot as well 😉 Perhaps in Bievres??

      I have not really looked into any of the workflows as I haven’t found the time. Yesterday I set up the printer as in giving it a location in my darkroom. I still have to turn it on etc. I have some darkroom work to finish this week and hopefully I”ll find the time afterwards.

      I won’t be starting out with Platinum/Palladium even though they are really awesome! Van Dyke and Albumen printing is what I have in mind first. I’ll take it from there. I still want to perfect my collodion negatives at the same time.

      Thanks for the heads-up on Mark Nelson. I was already advised to buy the book from Ron Reeder about the making of digital negatives. It’s supposed to be really good but I haven’t bought it yet. More to follow soon 😉

      Indra

      May 8, 2012 at 12:21

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