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Author Topic: Print Longevity testing at a crossroads  (Read 7547 times)
MHMG
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« on: August 26, 2012, 07:50:02 PM »
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I have spent the last six years working nearly full time to build a light fastness testing database for modern digital print media with an emphasis on the needs of the digital fine art inkjet printmaking community.  I opened the material testing up to end-users rather than manufacturers. I kept testing even when there were insufficient funds. I made the testing results available for freeÖ And with fantastic help from contributing artists and a few volunteers on site at AaI&A, we have grown the number of tested systems (i.e, printer/ink/media/ and coatings) to over 250 unique samples.

There's relevant lightfastness information in the reports on OBA burnout, light bleaching of OBA-free papers, Piezography and other third party ink sets, OEM pigments and dyes and media, third party media, color versus B&W print modes, driver modes, etc., etc, However, the test results do not translate easily to simple soundbites because the light-induced fading of image colors and tones in a printed image often proceeds at complex non linear rates.  One has to be prepared to read and study the AaI&A light fade test results rather than looking for quick comparative rankings. That said, my hope has been that the reward for those taking the time to study the results would be a new level of understanding about modern media print longevity.

Lately, I've found myself at a personal crossroads with this project.  Do I push ahead, scale the effort back, or stop the program entirely? The serious lack of funding would seem to make the decision fairly easy, but the larger issue for me is that it's hard to keep at it day after day if the information is not reaching the intended audience (i.e. serious artists, printmakers, and collectors who care about print longevity).

My audience is currently less than 1000 people worldwide. When you think about all the digital printmaking studios, the installed base of wide-format printers, all the manufacturers and resellers, all the photography forums, and all the museum and archive specialists dealing with the care of print media collections, etc., it's hard for me to figure out exactly why so few people appear to be interested in this research. Maybe Google doesn't turn the information up very well in related search activity.  Maybe the industry has fully satisfied most customers on the subject of print longevity with neat catch phrases like "pigmented inks", "acid-free" "100% cotton", "archival", "certified" and the like. Maybe people just want executive summaries or tidy single value "lifetime" ratings that the Aardenburg website doesn't currently provide.  Or, perhaps people really don't care anymore about hard copy print permanence in an age of iPads and iPhones and with digital image archives that promise to be "reprintable" in perpetuity.  I really don't know. I'd be interested in hearing what others on the  LL forum have to say about it.

I'm not looking for "atta boys" or other words of encouragement.  Rather, I am looking for some new insights about printmakers' attitudes towards print permanence in the digital age.  I won't post any more comments to the ensuing discussion at all (this could be hard Wink), except for a "thanks to everyone" towards the end when the thread has run it's course. So, feel free to say whatever you likeÖ good, bad, or ugly. You won't hurt my feelings.  I will listen carefully and with gratitude to all who share their thoughts..

best,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 07:55:05 PM by MHMG » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 08:54:26 PM »
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Hi Mark,

It's really hard to say. There could be a number of things happening, not in any particular order of importance, because this is speculation. I have no evidence. (a) There's an 800-lb. gorilla in the business called Wilhelm-Research, which you know well. One goes to that jumbled website, somehow finds the printer/paper table of interest, reads the number of years for the conditions of interest and end of story. Many people wouldn't think to bother going any further into it. (b) Permanence was a huge issue when there wasn't any, became a bit less huge when Epson came out with the 2000P, then comfort started setting in with successor models from Epson, Canon and HP, and interest dwindled further once permanence became "taken for granted". (c) Time. It takes time to digest the content of your research and for many people these days, they just aren't able or willing to commit the time, perhaps because of (a) and (b), and because in general, anything that takes time in our instant-everything environment has strike one against it. So those are the key issues that come to mind when thinking about why the audience is limited.

The next issue, however, is a lot more subjective - the one concerning what you do about it. Those of us who have supported your work obviously think it's worthwhile regardless of all the above. That means we would miss something if it were discontinued. The question for you is what you need to get from it to be happy carrying on with it. Is money a critical driver going forward? If yes, the answer is clear: if the money comes in, the work carries on. Is your personal interest a critical driver? If yes, you do it because it interests you. Is the interest of others a critical driver? If yes, then you need to decide what level of demonstrated support constitutes a large enough critical mass to keep you happy doing the work. Finally, the perennial question that most of us are faced with -  trade-offs: what's the opportunity-cost of time? There are only so many waking hours a year: how do we prioritize what we use them for, because it is a zero-sum game: time spent on one thing isn't available for another. I've come to appreciate over the years that of all the "resources" I use, time is the most precious of the lot. I can't answer these questions for you; the best I can do here is suggest ways of thinking through the dilemma. I hope your contribution finds a way of living on.

Cheers,

Mark
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 09:02:01 PM »
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It's tough to remain passionate about your interest if you don't see any real encouragement or monetary profit. I think you need to do more in identifying those to whom such data is valuable. If you are relying on leads through internet searches you're in for a long discouraging wait. I'm not sure what you've done regarding a classical marketing plan but your inquiry tells me that you really don't know who your customer is. I can't speak for others on LULA but as a photographer I have no interest beyond what you've also suspected relative to "good enough" info that's already out there. I can't even remember the last time I was questioned by a customer regarding print permanence.

In all my business ventures I've learned that dollars vote. Consuming a free service is absolutely no indication of real need. Put a dollar value on what you are now giving away and you'll discover exactly what it's worth. Sorry I can't be of more help. Maybe some other kind folks here can help lead you in another direction. Good luck.
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2012, 07:49:45 AM »
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Any of us who began capturing images in the film age (and I suspect that's most of the readership here) and doing darkroom work realize the importance of proper materials and technique to achieve an image that is 'permanent.'  There was another thread regarding Ilford Gold Fiber Silk and whether it is an RC paper and I mused back on my days when Kodak released the first RC darkroom papers and what a disaster they were.  All of us have also had experience with a lot of 'chromes' and color prints that have dramatically faded in a relatively brief period of time.  With the advent of digital tools these can be restored if they have value to the photographer, family, or even a customer with a favorite but faded image.  From Mark's work (as well as Ernst Dinkla's data base of spectral plots), we know a lot more about the substrates that we are printing on than previously.  Papers with high levels of OBAs can suffer burnout (though this is quite variable as we are learning) with resultant yellowing of the image.  Some papers with similar coatings tend to fade faster but we don't really fully understand why.  We also know that Epson's K3 yellow (and colors that use lots of it) fade quicker than the other inks.  The question in my mind is whether this is enough knowledge.  The presence of the sheer number of papers and smaller number of ink sets makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to test every single combination.  We also see reformulations of papers (most recently Museo Silver Rag) for a variety of reasons.  We also may begin to see papers disappearing from the marketplace for economic reasons perhaps forcing us to choose a new 'favorite.'

I suspect many of us are becoming a little jaded with respect to this new technology.  In the old darkroom days, printing and not the preparation of the negative was the most labor intensive aspect (leaving aside large format negatives and use of Zone system developing which was done on an individual negative basis).  Today it is the reverse.  We spend considerable time using raw processing and pixel manipulation tools to get an idealized image and with the exception of the needed soft proofing depending on what the paper choice is, printing is essentially one mouse click.  Think about how easy it is to print a single image at different sizes.  It may be that we don't care about fading of images (within reason) because it's just so easy to reprint it.  This being so, how many of you who sell images for a living provide a guarantee to your customers that the image will be reprinted at no or little cost?

Printing and permanence has always been an interesting issue for me (probably because I'm a chemist by training).  I can remember back in college reading a lot of the original Kodak and Agfa studies on B/W chemistry and why certain developers, fixers, and clearing agents were developed.  It was fun as an aspiring photographer to purchase and formulate some of these old combinations to see what the results would be (remember the efforts one had to go through to tone images?).  I have supported Mark's efforts both by funding and printing several targets for longevity testing and believe it to be a valuable service.  I've made some conscious decisions to stop printing on a couple of papers because I was disappointed in the testing results even thought there 'might' not be a practical impact from a display perspective.  I don't sell a lot of prints but I do provide recommendations to customers (and friends to whom I give prints) on the proper way to have them mounted, framed and the optimal conditions for display (don't put it on a wall where the sun beats down on it).

In summary (and of course this is a personal perspective), I think Mark provides a valuable service to the community.  The testing regime is well thought out and explained.  The results are informative and I will continue to support the endeavor.
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Ori
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2012, 10:07:50 AM »
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Mark, your work is very important, and for those of us users, who do "consume" the data you are gathering and preparing, it is invaluable. There is quite a difference when someone does something out of passion, and not only out of a need to make a living.
I have a small remark about the number of people that knows/utilises your research; I'm certain there are more than you stated. I, in my work, talk about your work with museums and collectors. I am not sure if they in turn go to the website and continue their own research/usage directly. but, in certainty, there are more people that know about your work than you think.

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Kirk Gittings
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2012, 10:37:26 AM »
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I have been a member/donner for a few years. I haven't got around to responding to your current email member renewal drive, but I will shortly. I truly respect and utilize your efforts.

I firmly believe that the problem is that YOU are the elephant in the living room. Wilhelm's grossly generous estimates are what people want to hear-not your more realistic/pessimistic results.

I hope you can keep going. I want the truth.
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2012, 01:07:48 PM »
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Hi Mark,

First off, Thank you for your hard work and the valuable information you provide to our community.

At least in part, the low reach figure might be due to SEO issues with the site. Iíve tried goggling several terms related to image permanence and it never appeared on the first page of search results.

The less-than-a-thousand number is for current paying memberships only, not traffic, correct? Quite a bit of useful information on your site is available to non-member so Iím sure the total traffic number is much higher. In addition, if you factor in the echo chambers of all the forums your work has influenced, you have a much higher impact on the art world than the memberships figure alone suggests.

Small consolation, I know, as this obviously doesnít help pay the bills but you are invaluable.
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2012, 05:31:17 PM »
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I suppose what it boils down to is for consumers to understand the answer to "so what" when presented with such data.  And, it's important to understand that your best answer might still be completely irrelevant to them.

Most consumers, I believe, fall into two categories:

1. "snap shot" consumers.  They have no care about print permanance.  They'll reprint if required, or use digital, etc.  The prints are not art works.

2. "fine art" consumers.  They care about print permanance, but they simply don't (by and large) know or care about the details - they simply expect that any purchase will last.

Of course there are other consumers, but ultimately they mostly fall into these categories.

Category 1 is a zero-sum game.  They don't care and never will care - they have no need.

Category 2 is your target market (ultimtely - more directly, your market is the print makers, but they won't care until their customers start caring).

Unfortunately, even the most experienced print maker and technician can get lost in the data about print permanance.  If you're not very familiar (or at least significantly familiar) with the concepts, if not the physics and chemistry, then it's easy to glaze over when confronted with detailed analysis.

People like me; technical, involved in the industry, a love of science, a nerd at heart - we love that stuff.  We're a very small minority :-)

The hard data is important.  At its core, scientific study requires solid data and peer-review.  Its promotion, however, needs easily digestible, tangible and significant points that are quickly and usefully absorbed by consumers who, prior to consumption, didn't even know that they needed to know.  That's tough - particularly when even some of the worst results are "good enough" over a period of 10 or 20 years (meaning that even if a consumer goes looking for problems having digested some of the information, they probably won't see them).

I don't know how you fix this issue, but I do believe that's the issue to be fixed.
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KeithR
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 05:44:47 PM »
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I haven't got around to responding to your current email member renewal drive,...

This is the first I have heard of this.
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2012, 06:18:46 PM »
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Wow.. what an honest and heart felt request.. how could I pass up! 

So my background is that I am selling prints and canvases to the local stores.  I have a Canon iPF6100 and print mostly on Epson papers (they are easy to get).  I coat my canvases with BC Timeless and stretch. 

So now to answer your question, I just think I'm doing what nees to be done.  I'm not a framer so am not too worried about matts or other contaminants getting in.  Bascially I have a newer model printer with pigments inks and I use papers from a major manafactuerer that should hold up well.  Plus, I think that if something does fade, it will take years and years for this to happen, unlike with the dye inks when photo printing because popular, so the time to create a stir about this might be decades away.  So if in 20 years it becomes obvious that some of these materials aren't holding up to the 70 years or so as quoted by only going half way to 30 or 35, well, we still got a long way to go and chances are I won't be around to guarantee the work anymore anyway.

Its like the economy for the president.  Nobody cares to fix it.  Who wants to cut back on spending so that in 10 years everything is good when you only have 4 years in office?  You gotta do what will make a difference in 4 years to be re-elected.  So with printing, I think we are at the point where most people don't care cause pigment of any sort is just good enough for what most people need.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2012, 06:20:49 PM »
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This is the first I have heard of this.

+1. I have not received a renewal notice, and I don't keep track of my renewal timings to anything, because the usual situation is that those who wish me to renew remind me it's time; then I check. In this case, if it is my renewal time, I wouldn't hesitate to do so, as I believe Mark's work is a valuable contribution to the imaging community. I don't know where else there is a collection of publicly available BASIC DATA of this kind, and I agree with Phil's comment about the importance of good data to scientific method - for those who care. Mark's work started as an alternative approach to that of Henry Wilhelm, and one that has a well argued supporting rationale. I think it is healthy and necessary to approach questions using a variety of co-existing robust methodologies that show promise of yielding valid answers.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2012, 06:33:21 PM »
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Wow.. what an honest and heart felt request.. how could I pass up! 

...................I think we are at the point where most people don't care cause pigment of any sort is just good enough for what most people need.

This hits the nail on the head. "People don't care" (perhaps one could say "not enough people care"). But then there's the reason you give: "cause pigment of any sort is just good enough for what most people need". I think it worthwhile unpacking that statement into its two components: "pigment of any sort is just good enough". Two questions here: good enough for what, and once that's answered, how do we know without the evidence of research like Marks? Second component: "for what most people need". What do most people "need", do "most people" even know what they "need", or do they only find out when they revisit their photos in ten years and discover them to be a faded memory of their glorious past?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not criticizing you for making these statements - in fact I think they are very revealing of the dilemma Mark is in, and I just wanted to bring out how so. Print permanence can be pretty arcane stuff, and it may be difficult for many people to relate its intricacies to their interests - perhaps it is necessary to complement the research with communications efforts that bolster the public perception of its importance by improving accessibility and digestibility.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2012, 07:25:27 PM »
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Just donated $50.00. Keep it going!
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« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 11:54:52 PM »
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This hits the nail on the head. "People don't care" (perhaps one could say "not enough people care"). But then there's the reason you give: "cause pigment of any sort is just good enough for what most people need". I think it worthwhile unpacking that statement into its two components: "pigment of any sort is just good enough". Two questions here: good enough for what, and once that's answered, how do we know without the evidence of research like Marks? Second component: "for what most people need". What do most people "need", do "most people" even know what they "need", or do they only find out when they revisit their photos in ten years and discover them to be a faded memory of their glorious past?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not criticizing you for making these statements - in fact I think they are very revealing of the dilemma Mark is in, and I just wanted to bring out how so. Print permanence can be pretty arcane stuff, and it may be difficult for many people to relate its intricacies to their interests - perhaps it is necessary to complement the research with communications efforts that bolster the public perception of its importance by improving accessibility and digestibility.

Thanks for pointing out my brilliant points! Wink  To answer your two questions, good enough for hobbyists and even professionals who sell art and portraiture for example.  What most people need is a picture that will last their lifetime.  So to me this is no more than 60 or 70 years really.  When your'e 80 you wont care to look at pics of yourself from when you're 10 cause you won't even know that it was you in the pic! LOL  I remember scanning many of these print test charts and most combos of pigment ink and paper were past the 50 year mark.  I was surprised that HP was so high, and Epson I believe was roughly the lowest, but they all did quite well for 95% of people's needs.  Its like with photography now, you don't have to know what shutter and aperature are to use a DSLR... but before it was all automatic and you can to turn the dials and the ring on the lens then you would need to know.  So now, as long as you're using pigment inks on paper from a major supplier, I'd say you're good to assume long lasting prints.
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Ernst Dinkla
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2012, 04:14:01 AM »
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Hello Mark,


We have discussed this more often. Like others I observe too little interest in the industry itself but can understand that lack of interest in the day to day practice of printing. There are many aspects to the job and with the simple numbers as provided by Wilhelm and the ink and paper distributors the easy answer is a reference to those numbers and then continue with all the other steps needed for the job. The usual warranty is the reference to the manufacturer's documents and some idle expectations that one of parties involved will compensate whatever goes wrong in time. There is a responsibility for all involved in our industry but I think there should be a guild to join that is linked to your independent research work, before things will change. Enough guilds already but none using that kind of control on media used, other criteria prevail.

However I am much more disappointed by the course museums, galleries, collectors, restoration shops have taken. In a sense they only look back and have no interest in what they are buying, selling, collecting right now. The problems are left for the future. I can understand that restoration departments and shops have some interest in the status quo but is it the same for the people that pay their wages? A lot of the research done on art media is on existing works that show conservation issues now.

There are institutions here and in the rest of Europe funded by musea, government, that should cover part of what you do but they do not, or touch the subject in one study and then it is done for the next ten years. Probably at costs that are way over your year's budget. But at the same time they are formally connected to their money suppliers, have the network, use the academic paths, and work in this country. Given the austerity measures taken here right now I see them fighting for their money. While it would be much more sensible to donate a reasonable sum to your ongoing testing at a much better price/performance level, I would expect them digging their trenches already. If a photo or art curator with some knowledge on art and photo restoration methods could be convinced that the fee they pay today to Aardenburg would substantially diminish their costs in the future, it might help.

A typical example is a new Dutch NWO project to do research on preservation/restoration of mixed media, say (chromogene) color prints with painting on them. http://www.nwo.nl/nwohome.nsf/pages/NWOP_8ASETA.  Bottom page.  http://www.nwo.nl/projecten.nsf/pages/2300169034  No lack of EU and US participants and ample financial resources: 600.000 Euro. Established institutes with the right connections involved. The job probably will be done on good scientific level, though one might ask whether an art historian with such a wide field of interest is the best choice to guide that project. I expect the works by Ger van Elk to be the main subject of that research. Most likely the media will be described, extensive tests done, today's measures discussed and guidelines for future preservation and restoration formulated. I think I can predict the practical value of that research project right now, partly based on a case of destructed artwork some years ago. The analogue processes needed for a resurrection will no longer exist within twenty years, the old work can not be retouched, new work will be made and assembled with the old work for some odd criteria of artwork value. Has been done before. In practice I would expect inkjet printing to be used as the replacement of the chromogene color photography part. Will this research project refer to work done by Aardenburg-Imaging, Wilhelm-Research, RIT, Image-Engineering on inkjet print aspects?  I doubt it. Edit: RIT is mentioned as a participating instiute, so on that I am not correct.
They probably will ignore the issue of disappearing technology and even if they look forward for replacing technologies, it will be based on their own limited research or knowledge of that technology. "Not invented here" exists in research too. References to scientific work done outside universities is usually not done either, does not deliver a better ranking for their publications.

The quantity of this kind of mixed media art work is quite limited and little of it did end in musea. Far less than the total of inkjet prints that are already produced today and will in the near future and so be bought by musea etc. Twenty years from now research will be done on how to preserve inkjet prints. If a similar sum of money used for the above project was now used to keep Aardenburg-Imaging continuing its important work, there would be obvious advantages:

* media standards could be described for art work purchases and by that diminish preservation costs in the future.
* it would educate everyone in that market on the importance of the use of good inkjet media
* initial fading could be limited right away
* with independent testing and derived standards the media manufacturing industry should be inspired to compete on quality
* a wide database of inkjet media produced and used over the years becomes available to musea etc which can help with additional preservation later on
* art historical work would benefit of a database like that
* the possibility to separate fakes from originals with data like that (my spectral plots could help there too)
* a public awareness of the issues creates a base for improvements in the wider consumer print market

What are the reasons this did not happen yet? The project mentioned above has at least an international approach but often we see research done per country while similar initiatives in other countries are ignored, no cooperation is sought. That is a pity, limited resources should be used better. Then there is the academic world and institutes like musea being financed from the same source, an institute like NWO most likely can not support an independent US initiative like Aardenburg-Imaging even if it was a small fee transferred. Not based on sound scientific grounds but just because it is not the right kind of institute that they can subsidize. Why does it not happen with a US equivalent of NWO? Probably for the same reason. The other issue is support from musea directly. As I understand it the museum sponsoring in the US binds the hands of the musea on supporting private initiatives that have a commercial structure and not a non-profit base. Not to mention the chance that industries in our sector are the sponsor of said musea which dangers any continuity of support for either the museum or the testing institute if the testing results are in conflict with the sponsor's interests. That is a Catch-22 situation.

People like Scorsese, Spielburg, that were aware of the necessity of cultural heritage preservation in the movie industry can be found in our industry too. Do we know famous photographers, artists, collectors that could raise the attention? Or famous people that are amateur photographers and get their prints made on the media we discuss here? We should not let this opportunity go, you have done too much good work already in creating the test method, the tests done, the expertise gathered, to let this slip into oblivion.



--
Met vriendelijke groet, Ernst

340+ paper white spectral plots:
http://www.pigment-print.com/spectralplots/spectrumviz_1.htm
update july 2012: Moab changes, paper sorting by name
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 08:28:51 AM by Ernst Dinkla » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2012, 04:44:51 AM »
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A step by step suggestion:

1.  Simplify the test results into a rating system.

2.  Gain some sort of standards recognition from ISO, ASTM or whatever,

3.  Get ink and media manufacturers to pay an acceptable fee for printing the ratings on their product and accompanying marketing literature.

     (Often in cases like this, getting one manufacturer to take part provides an impetus for  others to join in.)

Not the only way to move forward, but the path I'd choose.
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2012, 07:24:53 AM »
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Ernst raised an important set of considerations about financial support from institutions. There are a growing number of photography collections in North America (Canada and the USA) and most likely in Europe too, for example, dedicated photography museums and university-based photography collections. These are the institutions that should be most interested in the potential longevity of what they are collecting, and the individual contributions from a bunch of them would be a tiny fraction of their operating budgets, yet sufficient to keep Aardenburg adequately funded. Perhaps a concerted effort is needed to knock on their doors and convince them of the value in their own long term interest. If these institutions have no interest in scientific methods to understand the details of print longevity over the long-term future (after all, part of their mandate is to collect art of value to posterity), who will?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2012, 07:52:59 AM »
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As many others, I think the work is worthwhile but still somewhat limited in audience.  

We think there are high numbers of collectors, galleries, museums and so forth out there but there really aren't.  The audience for this type of work is, in the grander scheme, quite small.  As people become more and more comfortable with the 'lightfastness' of pigment inks and the 'permanence' of high quality papers they begin to take for granted the potential of newer inks and newer papers.  It's just assumed these will be as good or better than what came before.  People also get comfortable with a few, core papers and when that happens, they don't necessarily need to go looking at ratings for other media.  Again, limiting the audience.  It can sort of be likened to the market for film scanners.  That was always a limited market.  Once the photographers who'd migrated to digital had scanned their film libraries the scanner market was, effectively, done.  

I've used some of your reports but haven't registered for your website.  From a purely personal standpoint I register for as few websites as possible because I don't want the emails.  I'm not saying you send out a lot of messages, Mark but I'm at a point where I'm suffering from message fatigue and winnowing out many subscriptions/registrations I have now.  Again, this is purely a personal viewpoint and I know it may not be shared by others.

I think others have hit on a big part of the issue with these types of tests - both yours and Wilhelm - and that is that people want something simple.  It's difficult to distill the information down into a number or grade but that's what a lot of people want, I believe.  They aren't prepared to spend more than about 2 minutes trying to find out of a particular paper/inkset combination has a longevity rating they find acceptable.  The Wilhelm site itself is a joke.  Might well be one of the worst designed and laid out sites on the entire internet.  But he's supported by the manufacturers - at least it seems he is - so his work gets more play from them.

You spoke about Google page rank results.  I searched two strings 'inkjet print permanence tests' and 'inkjet print permanence ratings'.  Your site doesn't show up in the first three pages on Google.  Wilhelm is all over those first three pages.  Not just as a direct link but also being linked to by many others.  Spreading the word and getting support for your testing and methods from others and having them provide links back to your site is a key component of page rank.  I forget the exact numbers but it's something like 80% of people never go past the first page when searching for something and 60% never go past the fold (the fold is the results that appear without having to scroll).  I don't know how your site is designed from an SEO standpoint but that appears to be an area - based on my cursory examination - where some work could be done.  

To add to what some others have said about funding from institutions like universities, Ryerson University in Toronto has a very highly regarded photography program.  They also offer one of, perhaps the only, conservation degree in North America at the post-graduate level.  The program used to be conducted in conjunction with Eastman House but I'm not sure that affiliation is still in place.  Ryerson was gifted the Black Star collection several years ago and their new Ryerson Imaging Centre, which opens officially in September, is going to be an international centre for the study of photography and photographic methods.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2012, 07:59:40 AM by BobFisher » Logged
MHMG
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« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2012, 10:24:14 AM »
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Thank you to all who've contributed to this discussion. Your replies have been reasoned and thoughtful, and I appreciate that it takes significant time to prepare comments of this quality.

My original vision for the AaI&A digital print research program was that the program would take advantage of crowd-sourcing to gather a wide diversity of print samples and that pooled subscriptions, donations, and sponsorship contributions would cover the costs of the testing. The crowd-sourced sample submissions worked well, primarily due to a handful of dedicated printmakers around the world who really stepped up to provide the samples. The funding model and general interest in the work by the printmaking and museums and archives community at large has not worked, and sponsors are also few and far between. I regret that it is what it is.

We have tested important examples of our digital printmaking craft that would never be tested by other labs.  Manufacturers understandably will not test printer/ink/media systems that combine materials from multiple brands. Take a look ID#225 in the AaI&A database where an HP Z3200 owner has submitted a sample made on that printer with HP inks but printed on Epson Premium Luster Photo paper. It's a great combination, one that is is likely to prove superior in lightfastness to the HP branded comparable paper, HP Pro Satin, due to Pro Satin's serious OBA burnout problem. Or consider ID#264 which tests a combination of Epson 3800, Inkjetfly IMA24/36 V3 ink printed in Epson ABW driver mode, plus Harman by Hahnemuhle Matte Cotton Smooth 300gsm. If Harman were to commission an independent test, it would most surely use an OEM ink. If Epson were to commission the work, it wouldn't use Inkjetfly ink or Harman paper. If Inkjetfly commissioned the work, it would likely use a much more popular paper such as Epson Premium Luster, or Hahnemuhle Photo Rag.  Hence, the only way the printmaking community will see unique combinations like these tested is at Aardenburg Imaging, and only if Aardenburg can find the means to perform the work. Both of those samples noted above are in the latest test batch L1 which recently entered testing. 28 of those samples in batch L1 use pigmented inks, so most printmakers and gallery owners today might assume they are "archival pigment prints" and thus perform "good enough" in test. Yet ID#264 noted above has already triggered the lower limit of the AaI&A conservation display rating at 19 megalux hours in test (less than 10 "Wilhelm years on display"). That particular combination doesn't deserve any archival bragging rights despite its "acid-free", "100 percent cotton", "pigment ink on paper" heritage. It's mainly the paper OBAs combined with the ABW b&W printing mode, not the inkjetfly ink, to which this outcome can be attributed. There are much superior ABW mode and fine art matte paper combinations out there, but the only way to discover these optimal combinations and weed out the problematic combinations is to do this type of specific laboratory testing.  This value to the testing is why I'm reluctant to give up on the AaI&A digital print project. I know it's important to anyone who cares about truth over market hype.
 
I funded Batch L1 out of my own pocket. Fair market value of those 30 standardized light fade tests at other independent labs would run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Mark D. Segal wisely mentioned lost-opportunity costs (what would I rather be doing or getting paid to do). In pure dollars and cents and without donations to cover my standard engineering consulting rates for the dozens of hours each sample takes to measure over a 200 megalux hour light fade test, there are indeed plenty of lost opportunity costs. But that's just the dollars and cents. I have indeed been rewarded with much personal satisfaction that no other lab in the world is doing this kind of advanced light fade testing on modern media, and I've learned much practical information on wise material choices useful in my own personal printmaking.

I decided to keep the program running along quietly but scale it back considerably, relying on samples I mainly prepare myself, and testing for others whenever I can. I need to reclaim some of those engineering hours for other work.

best,
Mark
« Last Edit: August 30, 2012, 10:45:05 AM by MHMG » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2012, 03:57:49 PM »
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Mark,

This looks like a good compromise between abandoning this highly useful work altogether, and carrying on in what appeared to be an unsustainable manner. Two suggestions: (a) please do keep us abreast of when our subscriptions expire so we can renew in a timely manner, and (b) why not set up a separate fee scheme for people who want to have particular combinations tested that would go at least a good part of the way to reflect the value of the time you put into doing the needful? This way it may still be possible to expand the data base, albeit perhaps at a slower rate, while not going completely underwater in the process. May be worth trying it out on a trial basis and see whether there are bites. You know, sometimes people only value and seriously consider things they need to pay for.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
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