Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making Prints For The Book

I thought I might share some of my experiences in making test prints for the upcoming book 'Why Photographs Work'.

It's a tremendous responsibility doing my best to get these images exactly right. Some of these well known photographers don't do digital and I have had to work from raw scans or jpegs or scanning prints myself. Some of the black and white images are strongly toned and that image colour is going to have to come across.

Sometimes it takes literally hundreds of changes to get a file just right. My reference varies from prints to books to web images.

I have just printed Angel Descending by John Wimberley - wonderful image - and I noted that in the file he sent me there was nothing approaching white - so I lightened the image by moving the white point. The change was subtle, but now the image looks bright and perky, not 'moving' like the original - not all images should contain pure white, even when white things are represented in the image. The original file is the way to go.

Briggite Carnochan sent me the file for 'Pillow of Sickness' and I was having a terrible time. I reprofiled my monitor and printer and still couldn't get the image right. On the phone this morning I learned that she prints on an art paper, not inkjet paper, and the resulting image is muted and soft and lovely, but it takes a 'brisk' file to make that final image. Huge relief - thought I'd been doing something wrong. She's going to fed ex me a proof print - from which I will edit her digital file so that it will come out right in the book.

A Roman Loranc image took dozens of prints, despite having a profiled monitor and printer, before both he and I were satisfied with the result.

Brian Kossof sent a file in which he had  diffused the highlights - yet it didn't have the subtlety or the degree of diffusion of his image as it appeared in Lenswork. He'd been working with film. I had to come up with a variety of diffusion techniques in Photoshop in dozens of layers to match Brian's intent and make both of us happy with the result.

I wrote the above neither to impress you with my skill nor my hard work, but simply to give you an insight into the making of fine prints and of book making. Welcome to my world.

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