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Author Topic: Why print?  (Read 3190 times)
sdwilsonsct
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« on: December 05, 2012, 08:38:28 AM »
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More precisely, why print at home?
The local lab produces prints that seem quite good to my untrained eye.
So what do we get from printing at home? Better colour control? A choice of paper?
Am I missing something?
Thanks!
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Rand47
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 09:26:31 AM »
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More precisely, why print at home?
The local lab produces prints that seem quite good to my untrained eye.
So what do we get from printing at home? Better colour control? A choice of paper?
Am I missing something?
Thanks!

Depends on the quality of the local lab, papers available, ability to talk to the person actually doing the work, etc.  AND, your expectations.

Your assessment above re control, paper etc. is spot on, but I'd add to the idea of control the learning component (what I consider a fine print today is much different than even a couple of years ago) and the satisfaction that comes with managing the entire process yourself.  For me it is immensely satisfying to hold in my hands the image I imagined and then brought to life quite literally. 

As a final note I'd add that no one cares as much about the subtleties and quality of your work than YOU, so why would you give any of that to someone else?

All of this assuming, of course, that we're not talking about a production run of 50 8x10"s of the local high school baseball team.   Grin
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 09:50:27 AM »
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More precisely, why print at home?

Simple ... to be able to control and execute the process from end to end with my own effort.

I use commercial printers from time to time for some kinds of things ... but for a certain kind of work I like the fact that I did everything.


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JeffKohn
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 10:12:04 AM »
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I agree, it's a matter of taking control of the process and making sure everything is to my standard. I enjoy the process, immediacy, and the control I have over image prep, color management, paper selection, etc. I can give the individual attention to each print that an automated lab will not.

There can also be a cost-savings depending on what you're printing. You're not going to save money on 8x10 RC prints compared to what Costco or other cheap labs offer; but outsourcing large-format inkjet prints on fine-art paper can be quite expensive.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 12:37:53 PM »
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For me, better, faster, more control.
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Andrew Rodney
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k bennett
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 01:28:02 PM »
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Um, because I can do it in my pajamas?

Seriously, I went a long time between dismantling my film darkroom and buying a digital printer. That meant that I went probably five or six years without being able to print my own work, and realistically it was more like ten years, since I didn't shoot much b+w film toward the end there. So then I had my local pro lab print for me, but they went out of business. So then I just stopped printing anything for myself. Sure, Costco does an okay job, but it's not the same thing at all.

After seeing a demo at a conference, I bought an Epson 3800 about four years ago. It totally changed my life. OK, perhaps I exaggerate a little, but it did make a big difference in how I feel about my work. Showing you my photographs -- either my work portfolio or my personal work -- just isn't very satisfying on a tiny screen. Showing you actual prints, on fine paper, or in a homemade book, is significantly more satisfying. Having my own printer rejuvenated my personal photography, too -- now that I have a creative outlet, I am spending more time shooting personal projects.

To me, a photograph needs to be something that I can hold in my hands, something tangible, not just colored pixels on a little screen. Being able to create that in my own (digital) darkroom again is something that I greatly value.

If you are satisfied with the prints from your local lab, great. But if you want something beyond that -- better paper choices, more control over the quality of the image -- then the learning curve is worthwhile.

EDIT: You might be totally amazed at the difference between a custom print made by an experienced printer, and the 8x10 you get from your local lab.
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bretedge
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 09:39:21 PM »
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Aside from the points that have already been mentioned I'll say that I derive tremendous satisfaction in making my own prints.  I find it  quite enjoyable to watch an image evolve from the time you press the shutter in the field to the time that print rolls off the printer.  It can be frustrating at times, especially when mechanical issues rear their ugly heads, but I find those rare moments of frustration to be far outweighed by the joy of making my own prints. 

Also, I move a large volume of prints and I like having full control over the finished product.  When someone orders a print off my website I want to know that the print they receive has just as much impact as the image they saw on my site (if not more when they're really big!).  The best way to ensure that happens is to make my own prints.

Great topic and one I'll be following. Thanks for posting!
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 04:06:18 AM »
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For me printing my own images allowed me to complete the photographic circle.
It wasn't until I printed my own images and saw what the 'real' attributes were of my images.
I was able to make changes to the way I shoot and see the differences in the print - these were particularly in the realm of critical sharpness and detail that I had not appreciated just looking at the images on the monitor.
I have also slowly learnt how to make relatively subtle changes to tone and colour to improve my prints.
I also print a lot of A2 and larger prints.
My strong recommendation (if possible of course) is to do your own printing.

Tony Jay
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sdwilsonsct
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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 12:47:11 PM »
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...a photograph needs to be something that I can hold in my hands, something tangible, not just colored pixels on a little screen.

Thank you to everyone for these stimulating and enlightening replies.

It seems the answer is along the lines of Why use a dSLR? Why use a large sensor? Why use a tripod? In general, why do anything better?
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Kevin Omura
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« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 09:18:48 PM »
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In some ways it goes a lot deeper than that. It will greatly depend on the printer, in other words you may or may not get really great prints from some of the cheaper inkjet printers on the market. Epson do make some very good printers, when we finally shut the darkroom down at work I was lucky in that we had already gone the route of buying some high quality larger format Epson printers. Our current is the 4400 though I also have a new HP that we use for proofing of double truck broadsheets.

The downside of inkjet printing is that the ink can dry out as well as the heads if you don't have a decent amount of throughput. If you have a lot of heavy use then eventually the print heads wear out but in my example I am talking about very heavy daily use.

Also by printing yourself you have control over a lot of different factors such as paper type and ink type granted at this point you really need to do some research in terms of what your final output is going to be and expectations.

The other wild card may be the photofinisher you use, Costco make ok prints as do Walmart but if you are making exhibition grade prints you should probably rule them out.

Because I have so much control over my final print at work I would always print my images myself.
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kikashi
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« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2012, 03:01:24 AM »
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It seems the answer is along the lines of Why use a dSLR? Why use a large sensor? Why use a tripod? In general, why do anything better?

Or even, "Why do anything yourself?". I can buy better photographs of Yosemite taken by the likes of Ansel Adams than I could ever dream of taking myself, and the same applies to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Bryce and so on; but they won't be mine.

Jeremy
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Isaac
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« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 10:10:46 AM »
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It seems the answer is along the lines of Why use a dSLR? Why use a large sensor? Why use a tripod? In general, why do anything better?

I must have read the replies differently ;-)

The recurrent theme seemed to be that print-making was a pleasure in itself.

(I wonder whether opinions might be a little different when the alternative isn't Costco but Bay Photo lab?)
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Isaac
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« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 10:16:15 AM »
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I can buy better photographs of Yosemite ... but they won't be mine

More than I'm comfortable with, photographs I take of Yosemite valley usually don't feel like mine.
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Kevin Omura
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« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 10:35:11 AM »
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Or even, "Why do anything yourself?". I can buy better photographs of Yosemite taken by the likes of Ansel Adams than I could ever dream of taking myself, and the same applies to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Bryce and so on; but they won't be mine.

Jeremy

It's only a matter of time before all the great images are loaded into a cloud database and linked to the GPS in your camera. Then when you want to make 'art' the camera can guide you to the correct spot and even time of day and month.... 

So what then makes an AA print that great? His timing? The location? His darkroom skills? His equipment? With Photoshop and todays crop of printers and custom inks and papers you can probably make prints as good or better IMHO.

Getting the perspective correct without the swings and tilts of a view camera might be something to consider but then you could shoot on sheet film and scan it.
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Isaac
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« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 11:08:18 AM »
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So what then makes an AA print that great?

His idea + His execution.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2012, 11:32:30 AM »
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... So what then makes an AA print that great? His timing?...

Actually, his historic timing. He was the first to do it in a certain manner. Most of his shots are rather mundane by today's standards, easily replicable even by smart phones.
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Slobodan

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Rhossydd
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« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2012, 11:53:37 AM »
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easily replicable even by smart phones.
So you've never seen an original Adams print then
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2012, 11:57:14 AM »
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So you've never seen an original Adams print then

I did... and that is exactly why I said that.
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Slobodan

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Rhossydd
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2012, 02:43:04 PM »
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I did... and that is exactly why I said that.
You think a camera phone is capable of matching an Ansel Adams print ?

Curious, you'd had a degree of credibility around here before that comment.
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