Size Matters

By far the biggest xmas surprise was also in the biggest box — so big Courtney had to hide it in her car's trunk. A new printer to replace my small and aging Epson — a new Epson 2200, which can print to a much larger size than the 870. And timed perfectly to arrive even as I was informed of the latest Harrington Quad Tone RIP for printing a range of warm or cool-toned images from B&W photography. Not with a special inkset, like Piezography or the MIS inks, but using Epson's standard archival Ultrachrome inks.

After a bit of fiddling to install Ghostscript and GimpPrint into Mac OSX, I was ready to print. First image to roll out of the new printer — fantastic. A beautiful tone, no obvious metamerism, surpassing anything I'd been able to get from the 870 despite months of careful personalized profiling. A little weak in the darkest tones... quickly corrected by replacing the "Photo Black" ink with "Matte Black" for printing on Epson Enhanced Matte Paper.

Holding a print in your hand is far different from ogling a transient colored rectangle over the web. As my buddy Roy said: "We're not computers... we're physical."

For this same reason, I've been busy for the past many days building "contact sheets" from all my scans and digital-camera images, using XnView (which lets me add more data per-image, yet with less wasted space than Photoshop).

I usually build a small index image for each roll or session anyway, but this time I'm building 3K × 2K, not for on-screen viewing but for printing @ 300dpi commercially. Not on the 2200 either, though it would be tempting — the sheer quantity rules it out, as I've built around 1000 contact sheets so far. Courtney's been kind bulk-feeding them at a bulk-printing rate through her work, a few dozens or hundreds per day.

The result is sheets that I can hold and browse by hand, with far greater ease and detail than what I could get from the computer — even using a browser like Extensis Portfolio. My goal isn't to rapidly find pictures by subject or keyword, but to drink them in, to wash in a torrent or sip slowly. Always ready, no disks to load, viewable anywhere without a monitor, trivially transportable, and detailed enough to go back and track down the original file, scan, or negative as needed.

Personal contemplation defies keyword classifications, you need paper for this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, the 2200 — Sadly, no one local carries Hahnemule Photo Rag paper, which should be best at providing the deepest, most luscious blacks from the 2200. I'm left to wait for an online order. I'm eager to compare it to my beloved Crane Museo, which performed so well with the 870.

January 02, 2004





Comments on "Size Matters"

Chuck Freeman
January 3, 2004 01:01 PM

Simple and different. Ever heard of Wm. Eggleston? (an honor)

January 11, 2004 07:57 AM

I realize it would be antithetical to what you've just laid out in this post, but I for one would love to see a scan of one of these contacts you've been making. You know, to "drink it in," so to speak.


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