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Author Topic: Richard Lohmann hextone printing  (Read 4612 times)
pchaplo
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« on: June 17, 2006, 01:19:49 AM »
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Im hoping to see some real prints, but i like what i see in reproductions of Richard Lohmann's landscape work. His backhround is platinum printing and he is pleased with results. Like me, he likes the work of Frederick Evans. Im wanting to learn more about the process. He and Tom Mallonee use ErgoSoft StudioPrint RIP and MIS hextone carbon pigment inkset.

Ive heard that the new Epsons print B&W excellently, but there is something about Lohmann's prints and imagery that seems timeless. Has anyone here used this RIP and inkset? What was your impression? What are the advantages/disadvantages?  What are the alternatives?

What printer would work best with this inkset: MIS hextone carbon pigment inkset. Is there are certain Epson model that i should shop for? What about the RIP - is it in a sense, making a separation for the hex inkset? Are there controls to set the transition points? Does the RIP do other things well - for example a commercial RIP llike Cheetah can work with low res images and get excellent results say for Lambdas that i use now.

What about paper? I like  Hahnemuehle Photo Rag ~305 g.

What is the cost that I will be looking at to setup for this type of printing? Is there anyone who can print like this for me? How convenient are these inks, etc for periodic printing? I dont print all the time. I shoot commercial work, save my money, take a trip, shoot a bunch, print, and have exhibitions. ...keeps me out of trouble for at least a short time ;-)


Is all this needed, or can I get great results with Epson 2400 and K3 inkset?

Thanks,
Paul Chaplo

Shutterbug article on Richard Lohmann

Richard Lohmann's website with images and technique
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2006, 08:36:49 AM »
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I haven't used this specific inkset (MIS Hextone) or RIP, but I think it's very unlikely to do any better than Epson's K3 inkset and driver. Epson's driver lets you "tone" your black & white prints, works on matte or glossy papers, and permits you to use the same printer & inkset for color and B&W prints. If you need more control, you can use Roy Harrington's excellent $50 shareware Quadtone RIP with most Epson printers; this permits a wide range of toning options and provides good profiles for common papers including Hahnemuhle's Photo rag. It will also let you use a quad/hextone inkset if you want. For more dramatic toning you can simply use Photoshop's duotone mode and print straight through the Epson driver.
I have been printing B&W digitally for almost ten years and I've tried most methods, including dedicated hextone carbon-black inks with two generations of Jon Cone's Piezography system. Back in the 1990's such inksets were the only way to get neutral B&W prints with acceptably smooth tonal transitions. However, they were an absolute pain in the ass to use, with repeated head clogs and high costs (both up-front and for ongoing ink consumption). Continuous flow ink systems lowered ink costs a bit and reduced head clogs from a daily to a weekly event, but I dumped the quad/hex tone method instantly when I got equal or better results using Epson's initial Ultrachrome inkset. At least in my experience, quad/hextone inksets lead to repeated head clogs unless you print basically every day.
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pchaplo
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« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2006, 10:02:17 AM »
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I haven't used this specific inkset (MIS Hextone) or RIP, but I think it's very unlikely to do any better than Epson's K3 inkset and driver. Epson's driver lets you "tone" your black & white prints, works on matte or glossy papers, and permits you to use the same printer & inkset for color and B&W prints. .Roy Harrington's excellent $50 shareware Quadtone RIP with most Epson printers; this permits a wide range of toning options and provides good profiles.. ...dramatic toning you can simply use Photoshop's duotone mode and print straight through the Epson driver.
I have been printing B&W digitally for almost ten years ...dedicated hextone carbon-black inks with two generations of Jon Cone's Piezography system. ...absolute pain in the ass to use, with repeated head clogs and high costs (both up-front and for ongoing ink consumption). ...I got equal or better results using Epson's initial Ultrachrome inkset. ...quad/hextone inksets lead to repeated head clogs unless you print basically every day.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68437\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Geoff,

Very persuasive vote against hextone and for K3. What Epson printer do you use? How much $US did it cost you to set up with printer, ink, paper, and RIP? Any suggestions for papers and inks (I will research more here and elsewhere ...just help me get going). I like the art paper feel like Hahnemuhle's Photo rag - will that work with the K3 inks. Does "K3" refer to a certain Epson ink set with specific black? What printers have it? What printer would allow me to do say a tabloid sized sheet?

> Roy Harrington's excellent $50 shareware Quadtone RIP with most Epson printers; this permits a wide range of toning options and provides good profiles for common papers including Hahnemuhle's Photo rag
-Is Harrington's RIP using the K3 inks, or is it for an quadtone inkset that is non-Epson?

I currently print Lambdas at 120 ppi through Cheetah RIP. what res are you printing at? What RIP do you use. Tell me more about your image set-up. Im quite PS CS2 savvy for my commercial work, but I need to learn more for my personal B&W. I do channel mixes and localized adjustments with adj layers and painted masks.

I know im asking for a lot, but please start anywhere ...perhaps with printer choice for K3 inks.

Many Thanks,
Paul
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2006, 07:56:56 AM »
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I currently use an Epson 2400 with its standard K3 inkset and the standard Epson driver. "K3" is Epson's label for the inkset, which includes three "black" inks; actually black and two shades of grey. It also provides two choices for the actual black ink- matte black for matte/fine art papers and photo black for glossier stock. I use this printer on semi-gloss or luster papers for black & white work because it yields a D-max that matches or exceeds that of a standard darkroom gelatin silver print. The greater D-max is worth the minor annoyance of bronzing and gloss differential at some angles in some lighting. Epson's black & white mode in the printer driver is intuitive and completely adequate for my needs, so I haven't had to buy anything extra (other than paper). The 2400 currently runs $849 (US) by mail-order at B&H; it will print up to 13x19 inches. The same K3 inkset is used by the bigger 4800/7800/9800 printers as well.
I actually use an older Epson 7600 as my main printer, running matte black ink with the basic Ultrachrome inkset. I use this printer exclusively on fine art matte papers, mostly Epson's ultrasmooth fine art or Hahnemuhle's photo-rag. The newer K3 inkset uses the exact same matte black ink as in the older Ultrachrome inkset, and side-by-side testing convinced me that there is no visible difference in quality between these inksets on matte papers. For color work I print through Photoshop using Epson's driver and the superb profiles produced by Bill Atkinson that are found on Epson's website. (I had the good fortune to take a one-day workshop with Mr. Atkinson at George Eastman House, and his knowledge of color science is almost scary.) For Hahnemuhle's photo rag I just use the free profile provided by Hahnemuhle's website; it has worked beautifully for me.
For black & white on the 7600 I started out using Photoshop's duotone mode with the Atkinson profiles, but over the past 6 months I have mostly used Roy Harrington's $50 Quadtone RIP shareware. Despite its low cost it is extremely clever and intuitive to use, and includes profiles for many papers. It does permit use of hextone inksets if you have a densitometer and the patience to produce your own correction curves. I've been delighted with results using the basic Ultrachrome inks, so I haven't felt it necessary. Quadtone RIP leaves out the yellow ink, so prints have much reduced metamerism and better longevity. The last time I looked, Quadtone RIP was available for most Epson Ultrachrome printers, but I don't know if Mr. Harrington has extended it to the newer K3 printers. The excellent native black & white mode of these printers might make it redundant anyway. No doubt dedicated users of Image Print or other (very) expensive RIP's can eek out a few more tonal gradations. I haven't felt the need.
Finally, I generally print at 300 dpi for the chosen print size, though I don't bother down-rezing if the file size is bigger. I do up-rez in Photoshop as needed to make bigger prints.
Hope this is helpful to you.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2006, 07:57:52 AM by Geoff Wittig » Logged
picnic
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2006, 09:10:34 AM »
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but over the past 6 months I have mostly used Roy Harrington's $50 Quadtone RIP shareware. Despite its low cost it is extremely clever and intuitive to use, and includes profiles for many papers. It does permit use of hextone inksets if you have a densitometer and the patience to produce your own correction curves. I've been delighted with results using the basic Ultrachrome inks, so I haven't felt it necessary. Quadtone RIP leaves out the yellow ink, so prints have much reduced metamerism and better longevity. The last time I looked, Quadtone RIP was available for most Epson Ultrachrome printers, but I don't know if Mr. Harrington has extended it to the newer K3 printers. The excellent native black & white mode of these printers might make it redundant anyway.

Quadtone RIP does cover the 2400 with K3 inks.  I still am using the 2200 with it, but have considered the 2400.
http://www.quadtonerip.com/html/QTRrequire.html
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picnic
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2006, 09:12:11 AM »
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Im hoping to see some real prints, but i like what i see in reproductions of Richard Lohmann's landscape work. His backhround is platinum printing and he is pleased with results. Like me, he likes the work of Frederick Evans. Im wanting to learn more about the process. He and Tom Mallonee use ErgoSoft StudioPrint RIP and MIS hextone carbon pigment inkset.

Thanks,
Paul Chaplo

Thanks, Paul, for introducing me to Richard Lohmann's work.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2006, 09:12:48 AM by picnic » Logged
pchaplo
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2006, 10:43:39 AM »
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Thanks, Paul, for introducing me to Richard Lohmann's work.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=68534\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Please share a photographer / printer whose work you like? Im in a very receptive mode these days.

Yes. Lohmann's images are printed so well - with his platinum alternative process experience, he has the eye to translate the real platinum look into an inkject equiivalent, while admitting that it is different. I like that. To me pplatinum is neutral, but is just has a feel. I cant put my finger on it. It feels soft and luminous, but its not. [lost for word] Thanks to all for the useful information. Geoff - wow, i feel like i just got a 10mb donwload of critical info. THANKS!

Last night I ordered an Epsonn 2400 from Amazon.com for:

"Shipping Method:  FREE Super Saver Shipping  
Shipping Preference: Group my items into as few shipments as possible
Subtotal of Items:  $781.83
Shipping & Handling:  $25.64  
Super Saver Discount:  -$25.64

  ------
Total for this Order:   $781.83 "

I AM SO EXCITED!!!

I will start with the Epson driver. I want subtle toning and still must discover that that look is like. timeless but not nostalgic.  ...sounds like a perfume ;-)

Also, check out Jim Collum's work.

Paul Chaplo
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Leping
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2006, 03:07:09 PM »
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I happen to be Richard's student and friend, and have had some
chances to print on his hextone system.

Basically all my works are landscapes in color (check out my web
site at http://www.lepingzha.com), but I worked in darkrooms doing
B&W when I was young.  The prints made out of Richard's system
had really shocked me with such great quality in tonal seperation,
black depth, and visual impact, that I am forced to re-thinking
serioiusly what direction should I go the next.

Reading the posts I really wanted to set the record straight about
Richard's techniques.  The hextone prints have better image
structure than prints made with the Epson's Advanced Black and
White Mode, because the Epson's are essentially tri-tones formed
with only three shades of gray.

The Epson's lightest  gray ink is much darker than a hextone's
lightest ink.  Where the highlight dots are visible with the Epson
system, the hextone print's are not.  The lack of dots makes the
hexton prints look much sharper.

But the biggest benefit of Hextone is that you can control the
image color at six points along the scale, by mixing each ink to
very specific density and color.  Thus you get better apparent
contrast using color modulation - warm or cool shifts within the
image can be used to create a feeling of great depth in the print.

For example, the density (D-value) spacings that Richard is
crrently us are:

1.76
1.34
1.01
0.71
0.44
0.20

and the availability of the six control points makes the hextone
print's tonality smoother, as there are six stops of dynamic range,
and six inks mixed about a stop appart.  The way the ton
transitions from ink to ink - light to dark, is very different from  
a Tritone or Quadtone print. This needs really to be seen in person.

Also, Epson's Advanced Black and White Mode uses yellow,
magenta and cyan dots on white paper - and those colors will fade,
causing differential fading of the image tonality. In time the yellow
dots will fade and the print will look bluish-cyan, for example.

In short, the Epson's Advanced Black and White Mode is good, but
hextone was designed for the needs of exhibiting fine art
photographers who need the very best quality, and is still a step
ahead the Epson's.

Leping Zha, Ph.D.
San Mateo, California
http://www.lepingzha.com
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pchaplo
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2006, 03:21:02 PM »
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Dear Leping Zha,

I will write more later, but I wanted to immediately thank you for sharing the information, and to ask: can these hextone carbon 'inks' be used in my Epson 2400 ?

Also, what RIP are you using?

Best,
Paul

--snip--

For example, the density (D-value) spacings that Richard is
crrently us are:

1.76
1.34
1.01
0.71
0.44
0.20

and the availability of the six control points makes the hextone
print's tonality smoother, as there are six stops of dynamic range,
and six inks mixed about a stop appart. The way the ton
transitions from ink to ink - light to dark, is very different from
a Tritone or Quadtone print. This needs really to be seen in person.

--end snip--
« Last Edit: June 30, 2006, 03:23:01 PM by pchaplo » Logged

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Leping
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2006, 06:06:32 PM »
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Hi Paul,

I do not really know much more about the process, beyond my post,
but my understanding is that any printer with at least 6 print heads
can be used  for hextone inks after modifications, which involves
tons of efforts followed by careful and frequent calibrations.

For more information, there are workshops Richard offers through
the Ansel Adams Gallery, and you can try to ask Richard directly
through email.

Thanks,
Leping
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2006, 11:56:47 AM »
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I did not intend to disparage Mr. Lohmann's work. No doubt his hextone prints display smoother tonal gradients than what can be achieved with the Epson driver and a 2400 printer, and a dedicated hextone system provides all sorts of options for custom ink colors and densities. However, this requires a monumental investment in time and effort, with an ongoing commitment to process control that most of us devoted amateurs can't justify.
I would merely suggest that prints carefully made with the Epson 2400 and its native black & white mode are of very high quality, and can withstand close scrutiny without apology. See if this serves your needs before spending time, money and effort on a hextone system. Quadtone RIP is another option that also uses Epson's native inks, permitting you to make color prints with the same machine.
Epson has done a remarkable job of advancing print longevity, and I would be skeptical of claims by third party vendors of better results. I have a collection of B&W prints I made with a hextone system a few years ago, and despite claims of pure carbon pigment ink and archival longevity, many have color-shifted in an unpleasant green direction. If you're really concerned about this, Quadtone RIP does not use any yellow ink, so you are very unlikely to see visible color shifts in your lifetime.
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