Re: Charcoal Prints

From: Richard Sullivan ^lt;>
Date: 03/08/04-01:17:29 PM Z
Message-id: <>


Nice essay!

I think the distinction comes easier if one uses Walter Chappell's dictum
(written in 1948) that photographers fell into two basic categories: print
makers and image makers.

Digital prints do make sense for image makers. The collector market still
seems that it would prefer a silver print over a digital of Cartier
Bresson's work, though since he does not print his own work, I don't see
much difference. Once the image in the computer is fixed one can crank out
an edition faster than the handmade silver prints. Once print speed goes up
one can look at digital as a way to print editions opf photo books.

Melody and I traipsed Chelsea (NYNY) last September and took in the shows.
Lots of huge (48x48) C41 prints for big bucks. Strangely very few digitals.
I would suspect that a 48 inch digital color chrome print would outlast a
C41. Whjy one would buy a fading print for better than $10,000.00 is beyond
me. But then there are people who redecorate their Park Av apartments every
two years and donate everything to Goodwill.

We did see the absolutely luscious gums of Ernestine Rubin at Stevenson
Gallery. Wow!


At 10:57 PM 3/7/2004, you wrote:
>Hi Dick,
>I am not sure if you understood what I was saying about "Charcoal Prints"
>in reference to Ilford Charcoal paper. Ilford makes a very beautiful
>silver gelatine paper called "Charcoal". I have used that with digital
>negatives and really liked it. Ilford also makes an inkjet paper called
>"Charcoal" with a similar surface—I hhaven't tried that with my custom
>inkjet printing.
>I agree about the terminology. I think many people doing inkjet prints
>(especially service bureaus—just look at the ads in photo magazines) use
>terms like giclee, carbon prints, "platinum" prints, etc because they
>don't know any better, others because they want to sound fancier than
>"inkjet", and others because they want to try to hide the fact that the
>prints are inkjet and to convince some unsuspecting buyer that they are
>getting a "hand made" print from a wet process darkroom. It's silly. Even
>some of the inksets are named after alt processes like carbon and
>platinum. I haven't yet seen an inkset named after Gum, but I think Judy
>Seigle is working on that with one of the ink manufacturers hehehehe
>I do think for a while a few years back it was important to indicate that
>a print was an "archival pigment" inkjet print as opposed to the dye
>inkjet print that would start fading in 3 days. I never sold an inkjet
>print until I was assured it would at least last over 50 years (wilhelm
>What I am noticing is that more and more high-end photographers (I'm not
>sure if high end means they are really great, famous or they have part of
>their anatomy pointing to the sky hehehe), who have been shooting film
>and scanning it or have been shooting with multimegapixel digital cameras,
>are beginning to get over their fascination with the topline inkjet
>prints. Sure, you can make them big and sure they can look
>great. However, I think you are seeing more of these artists beginning to
>look towards digital negatives to do silver gelatine prints, pt/pd prints,
>and other alt photo processes. While galleries and juried shows are
>accepting inkjet prints, some are turning away from them or never have
>accepted them in the first place. There is still much to be said for the
>alternative methods. There is nothing like holding a finely crafted print
>in a beautiful process on beautiful paper—especially if it has great
>iimage content.
>I do think that the digital negative is a nice marriage with the
>alternative processes. I still shoot black and white film along with
>digital. However, I think most of my "serious work" is going to be in alt
>process via digital negatives from now on—regardless of whether I shot it
>with a digital or film camera. But then that's just how I feel about it
>and I don't expect everyone to feel the same. I certainly hope people
>still keep doing in-camera negatives for contact printing. Besides, its
>fun to watch Sandy King haul that 20 x 24 camera with the trailer hitch
>into a state park and watch the people gather around and go oooh and
>aaaaah.... but I know he actually has a very thin Epson flatbed scanner
>hidden inside those fancy home made hardwood film holders. ;)
>Mark Nelson
>Precision Digital Negatives
>In a message dated 3/7/04 1:16:31 PM, writes:
>>You may well be right.
>>I am forever getting P.O'd. about photographically illiterate idiots who
>>call their inkjet prints "carbon prints" because they use carbon based
>>inks. Then there is another branch of idiocy who apparently they want to be
>>in the same league with Josef Sudek and call their inkjet prints "pigment
>>I got a call once from a platinum printer who was equally twisted about a
>>show of "platinum" prints in Santa Monica where the guy used a "platinum"
>>ink set in his printer and then put brush marks on the edges with Photoshop
>>to complete the fraud. Actually not so much fraud as the gallery owner said
>>what they really were so this guy, like the aforementioned, perhaps had not
>>a clue as to what a platinum print really was.
>>The shuck and jive is that folks really are not that comfortable with what
>>they are doing and look for terminology that obfuscates what the prints
>>really are. Cohn prints, giclee prints, piezographs, carbon prints,
>>platinum prints, microdispersion prints, Iris prints, and others I can't
>>remember, are used in place of the term "ink jet." Everyone knows what an
>>ink jet print is so my guess is the other terms are just used to put fog in
>>front of a naive buyer's eye.
>>The handmade will always have an add-on value because of it human element.
>>My first lecture to my classes in alt printing at the local college goes to
>>the heart of the idea of the handmade.
>>Many if not most come to the class after having taken a digital class. I
>>play devils advocate and ask them why do they want to take all this trouble
>>to make hand made alt prints. Most are dumb struck. They have a gut feeling
>>they want to but really don;t know why and can't verbalize it. Santa Fe has
>>a huge art colony and a very healthy fine craft furniture segment. You can
>>buy desks and chairs in the $20,000.00 and up range. When I point out that
>>much of that fine furniture has dovetails that are cut by hand and could be
>>cut finer and better by a dovetail jig, and that a dimensional drawing
>>could be made and the finest handmade rocker could be turned out in minutes
>>on a CMC wood mill-lathe, and in fact Gone With the Wind style staircases,
>>once the product of a year's worth of work by a whole crew of craftsmen is
>>now turned out in a day by computer driven machines. Why then does the
>>handmade furniture piece command such high prices. Because it reflects and
>>revels in the idea of craft. hand craft! Most of the students light up at
>>this point. In fact our digital department invariably tells students that
>>wet photography is dead and that there is no reason to do anything but
>>digital now. They came not believing it but not knowing why they didn't
>>believe it.
>>I ramble.
>>At 10:29 AM 3/7/2004, you wrote:
>> >Carl,
>> >
>> >The Luminos Charcoal paper is a beautiful Silver Paper. I have used it
>> >with digital negatives and had it toned so that the surface looked like
>> >brown sugar crystals, for lack of a better description... one of my
>> >favorite Silver Papers.
>> >
>> >Mark Nelson
>> >In a message dated 3/7/04 7:13:34 AM, writes:
>> >
>> >
>> >>Jim,
>> >>
>> >>It might be something special, or they could just be making a big deal
>> >>out of prints on Luminos "Charcoal" paper. It's a thick, expensive,
>> >>textured silver-gelatin paper with a unique look. I've seen shows where
>> >>prints on it were presented as though it were more than just another
>> >>manufactured silver paper with an unusual surface.---Carl
>Mark Nelson
>Precision Digital Negatives
Received on Mon Mar 8 13:20:01 2004

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