My Passage From Darkroom To Digital Printing

  The finished print recovers both the world seen and the act of seeing, recovers both in the subsequent act of taking in the printed image and reimagining the moment of capture … Alan Trachtenberg, from “Distinctly American The Photographs of Wright Morris.”

  Since my earliest days in the darkroom staring down at paper floating/processing in chemicals, I have been fascinated by the captured photographic image brought to life by the print. In early 2000 a student of mine showed me an image made on an “Iris” (digital) printer. The “Iris” printer had been used in the printing trade to make soft proofs from digital files to check color and image integrity (Prepress) before taking the job to the (analog) offset press. As the story goes, Graham Nash used the “Iris” to produce prints from contact sheets for an exhibit after his original negatives were lost in shipping. The “Iris” printer in my opinion was the greatest digital printer ever made. I still have large 40″ prints made by this printer and I am still amazed by their three-dimensional depth of tone and sharpness. Due to the cost of the printer, repairs and parts, and finding skilled print makers to operate the “Iris”, the “Iris” printer has been mostly retired.


Tom Mallonee. Bishop, California

  Because of the Iris prints, I made the transition from the darkroom to the digital light-room and began to study printmaking with Tom Mallonee, Through a series of private workshops Tom trained me to print and understand the Espon 7000 printer. Working in his Bishop, California studio I learned a great deal about digital printing but mostly how custom inks and the distribution of those custom gray scale inks on a piece of Hahnemuhle Photo Rag made my departure from the darkroom permanent.

Lenny Eiger_1197

Lenny Eiger

  Due to the size of the prints I wanted to produce and the drum scanning needed to produce those files, I began to work with Lenny Eiger,, in his Pentaluma, California studio. Lenny, like Tom Mallonee are both great photographers and their photographic work led them to their printmaking craft. With Lenny’s beautifully made drum scans and Tom’s custom inks, I have made a number of large remarkable prints.


One of My Pieces Being Printed At Eiger’s Pentaluma Studio


Tyler Boley Sharing His Prints At A Workshop in Berkeley, California, 2008

  My last workshop in printmaking was more of an opportunity to meet Tyler Boley,, at a workshop in Berkeley, California. Tyler, like Tom and Lenny are fine photographers and Tyler makes wonderful landscapes of his native Seattle area. His web site is a clearing house of what‘s what in grayscale digital printing.

  Currently I am working with a Canon Pixma Pro-1 printer to be used this Spring semester, 2015, with my Color Management For Digital Photography class at San Diego City College. The Canon Pixma Pro-1 has a thermal head which reduces the amount print head nozzle clogging. The supplied or canned printer profiles for the Pixma Pro-1 are close but I will be using my trusty i-1 profiling gear to improve upon the color output.

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