As a bonus of working in the private sector, I had Friday as a holiday as well as Monday making a 4-day weekend. Finally, some time to spend printing. How satisfying!
I am working through a backlog of print-ready photographs from the last few years, partly to satisfy me need for a sense of completion, but also to select prints for my upcoming show in September. Perhaps it’s a sign of my four decades in photography, but I never feel quite photographically “complete” until my work is actually printed on fine paper as a fine art print.
On screen and on the web is good, and, in fact, very helpful for feedback inthe forums (I can highly recommend the Luminous Landscape Forum), but the smaller size and backlit display just don’t have the same appeal. There is also the feeling of impermanence; printing on fine paper, on the other hand, is a commitment to longevity, a statement that says “I’m finished”.
Of course, what do I immediately do after printing? I scrutinize the print for improvements – so much for the “I’m finished” bit.
I’ve been very pleased with the results as of late. I don’t colour manage (I know, heretical), but I do use test strips, a technique leftover from my darkroom days. But you know what? It works. Running a 2″ test strip of a key part of the photograph printed on my paper of choice allows me to see it as it will exist – not as a softproof on monitor, but as a living, breathing front-lit print. One of two text strips allows me to nail the colour balance and exposure before committing a whole piece of ($5 to $10) paper plus about the same in ink.
My paper of choice is (and has been for a few years now) MOAB Entrada Rag Natural. It is a lovely, lightly-textured matte paper made from 100% cotton with no optical brightening agents (OBAs), thus the “natural” designation. Why matte paper? While it bucks the rend to some extent, I love the feel and look of this paper. No, I do not get super dark blacks (high Dmax), but I get what is, to my anyway, a more authentic view of the natural world I am photographing. It’s real, but not quite real. To me, there is no modern technical aspect between the viewer an the image on the paper. I hate the word “organic” in its use now-a-days, but it seems fitting in this case.
Once I’m in the groove, and have calibrated my brain to the computer and print results, I can successfully make a number of different prints without text strips. This is the zen of printing – a state which only happens once or twice a year. This weekend was one of those times.
Here are some of the prints I made this past weekend. If there is one you happen to like enough to buy, it’s yours for $75, shipped free anywhere in Canada. You will receive the print on 13×19″paper, matted and ready for a 16×20″ frame, with a certificate of authenticity.