Monday, January 24, 2011

Diginegs... from phone pic to B&W darkroom print

Screen-grab from my LR catalog showing a photo taken with my Nokia N95 mobile/cell phone. (Click on picture to see a larger version)

Those of you that know me, know how much I love being in the darkroom and printing traditional silver gelatin based prints. When I travel these days one of the big decisions that I have to make is to determine how much of my film based analog gear Vs my digital cameras I should take. There's just not enough room for all or both. 

During my trip to Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam, with Perth photographer and party animal,  Robert (Safaribob) McLellan, in late 2009 I opted just to take a couple of 35mm  cameras (my beloved Hasselblad X-pan and my little Leica P&S) leaving all my digital kit back home. EXCEPT for my trusty old and much loved Nokia N95 cellphone. Ended up using the camera on the phone quite a lot, albeit mainly when Bob and I were staggering around in search of beer or food... which is what we seemed to be doing mostly

Quite liked some of the pix, so I decided to produce some inkjet based digital negatives and see how they printed in the darkroom. I've been making digital negatives for some time now, although mostly to use as contact negs when producing Canotypes, Van Dyke and other alternative processes. I'd also just bought a 'low end' Canon MG5250 printer and was curious to see how it would compare to my older Epson. 

So, after doing some preliminary prepping of the phone pic in lightroom, I moved it over to photoshop and ran some tests, tweak ing the curves to match the silver gelatin process, with my printer and the inkjet material that I am using. Most practitioners of this technique, including one of the guru's, Dan Burkholder, recommend the Pictorico OHP sheets but as I am struggling to get these atm, I opted for Nobo OHP film available from Officeworks. The quality of the resulting negatives and Fibre Based prints (Kentmere Fineprint VC FB paper) are pretty bloody good considering the printer and Nobo OHP film don't even register on the 'radar' as being worthy of consideration for the majority of the practitioners of this technique.

Shop Window, Old Quarter, Hanoi - Silver Gelatin Artists proof print
(Click on picture to see a larger version)