Sunday, December 30, 2012

Black Only Printing with Eboni Ink on my Epson 1400

I have been working as time allows on my new workflow, which I plan to discuss in more detail in 2013.  I really love the look I've been getting with Arista Premium 400 at E.I. 200 in D-76.  I'm still getting more dust on my scans than I would like, but it is improving.  I just got in 10 rolls of "real" Tri-X and a bottle of Ilford Rapid Fixer to replace the odorless Arista Rapid Fixer that takes 9 minutes to clear film.  I will be pouring the rest of the Arista down the drain.

I have been using the only film camera I still own - a Nikon N2000.  It isn't very attractive but it works well.  I don't like the noisy film advance though and have a FE coming from KEH.  I bought it on their Ebay store and it is, according them, between 78% and 82% of its original condition.  There is lots of brassing at the corners.  Awesome, I say!  It looks like I've owned and used it for years.  I plan to put my 50mm f1.8 lens on it when it arrives.

And I have been working on my new workflow for making prints too!  Along with the Ilford Fixer I have received a box of 8.5" x 11" Epson Hot Press Natural paper and have been working on getting a good print on it using 100% carbon Eboni ink from Inksupply and Quadtone RIP software using black only printing.  Above is a scan of the resulting picture, with some curve adjustment to make it look more like the print.  The off-white color of the paper and the natural hue of carbon pigment gives the picture a definite warmth (though it isn't quite as warm as the scan), and the matte surface definitely can't equal the dynamic range of the original film scan on a computer monitor.  But taken on its own, the print looks very good, with subtle tonality reminiscent of platinum/palladium prints (the delicate tones in the cloudsare much better in the print than I could get them in this scan).  The graininess in the mid-tones from using black only ink matches well the look of the Arista Premium 400 film on which the image was captured.   And I especially like the look of highlights from this method, as they are created by dithering the ink.  The paper surface that comes through adds a glow.  All in all, it is probably too grainy for pictures shot digitally or with medium format film, but for printing 35mm Tri-X, it works beautifully (IMHO) and is easy to set up.

It took 4 test prints to get to this point, but in the end I used the software's curve for PremierArt Smooth paper and made a 30 adjustment to the ink limit to increase shadow density and a 5 adjustment to gamma to darken the midtones slightly in the "Advanced Adjustments."  A more dedicated printer would make their own curve from scratch.

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