enlarged negatives via inkjet

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While trolling through the archives, I found reference to a technique by Dan Burkholder to make enlarged negs via an inkjet printer. As I understand, the process involves scanning the neg and doing any contrast control, etc., in Photoshop. The enhanced and enlarged PS negative is next printed to an 8x10 inkjet 'film' which is then contact printed onto any traditional paper type.

Does anybody have any experience or seen the results of this technique? I'm a bit of a traditionalist but the idea appeals to me and still allows a traditional silver print as the end product. How is the quality, and would it allow retouching a 4x5 neg for enlarging to 8x10 or 16x20?

-- Andy (akkup@mindspring.com), September 20, 2001


Sorry, not an answer, but I'd like to expand upon the question if I may. I too am intrigued, as I prefer to contact print...if one starts with an 8x10 negative, how good of a scanner is required (except that it is capable of a high dMax)? I'm sure that the output to the new Epsons is nice, but how archival is the ink when printing on injet "film"?

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), September 20, 2001.


Dan Burkholder has his own site which, among other things, provides a table of contents for his book on digital negatives (see http://www.danburkholder.com/).

I have used digital output for photopolymer gravure and screenprinting, but I have not had any experience producing negatives for platinum or gum bichromate work. From a quick reading of Dan Burkholder's table of contents, however, you get the impression that the quality of your output depends a great deal on the quality of the original scan and the type of print device used. According to the table of contents, his book spends one chapter (CH 12) on the inkjet and describes it's limitations and potential for future use. Most of the book, however, seems to deal with non-desktop equipment including high-end imagesetters and drum scanners.

My sense is that the combintion of a high quality drum scan and output to an imagesetter will provide excellent negatives, even by some traditionalist standard. On the other hand, a deskstop scan combined with output to a typical inkjet printer (even the new Epson) will yield different and, for some printers, less desirable results.

IMHO it depends on the type of image you are attempting to create and the look you try to achieve in your work. It may also be a function of your own feelings about output generated by the inkjet. Some photographers like the appearance of inkjet prints and some don't. By the same token, some will use injets to produce digital negatives and some will require imagesetter output.


-- Dave Willison (dwillisart@aol.com), September 20, 2001.

Many people are doing this, or at least trying it. Dan's method doesn't involve making the negative on your home ink jet printer as I recall (I read the book about six months ago). You do everything at home except print the negative, then take the disc to a service bureau where the negative is actually made. If my memory is correct, he says that home ink jet printers haven't yet reached the stage of producing acceptable (to him at least) negatives. There has been a lot of discussion about digital negatives on the alt process list. Some people seem to be making them but you see a lot of discussion about all sorts of problems to which there doesn't appear to be an easy solution. One of the main ones seems to be finding a suitable substrate, one that will provide sufficient density in the highlights and adequate detail in the shadows. People don't seem to be using a film type substrate because of problems with the ink puddling, inadequate density, and other things that now escape me. FWIW, my impression from reading Dan's book and from reading many of the discussions in the alt.process list over the last several years is that it's something that can be done with a lot of trouble and iffy results but whose time from a technology standpoint really isn't quite here yet. If you subscribe to the alt process list you can go to the archives and you should be able to find a lot of information. I don't have subscription information handy but perhaps someone else will post it or send me an e mail if you're interested and I'll dig it out.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis60@earthlink.net), September 20, 2001.

I know I will probably get a lot of bad press here for being old and bull-headed... but am I wrong in thinking that an enlargement is an enlargement at any stage of the game. Am I wrong in thinking that a negative that is enlarged by digital methods will lose some of the subtle detail that is possible to obtain with origional contact printed negatives??? -Dave

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), September 20, 2001.

I might be wrong about this but it seems that the contact print is simply a means to an end, rather than the objective of the whole exercise. The appeal to me is that the process would seem ideal for correcting any defects - such as dust, scratches, or out of control highlights, for example - on the neg and still allow a traditional print to be made, either by contact or for that matter outputting back to a 4x5 neg and using an enlarger. Again, I could be wrong about this but it makes sense that it would be much simpler to eliminate the enlarging step, and necessary equipment, entirely by output to an 8x10 negative and contact printing.

-- Andy (akkup@mindspring.com), September 21, 2001.

Take a look at the LensWork Quarterly site, Special Editions, they are doing this to a high level, outputting a master negative through digital means, then contact printing on fiber base paper-an outstanding marriage of digital and traditional. It requires an extremely high dpi imagesetter to get those results-but every B&W photographic image needn't have 256 tones, either.

-- David Stein (DFStein@aol.com), September 21, 2001.

large InkJet positives for Patino contact printing....... Epson 3000 .....Using WestJet transparency film and epson inks.

Go to www.westjet.com - ask for kevin newell !!!!! Film is available in many sizes and priced right.

we are using Quad Tone inks and getting good results --- both on paper (watercolor or acid-free museum quality) and film Tonal quality is excellent - Life exspectancy for these prints is 200 years.

I'm using Epson/Westjet positives for very fine detail when making silkscreens. (at a considerable savings over traditional silver film or laser image-setting output)

Best results to you........Bru

-- Bru (abshuman@yahoo.com), September 22, 2001.

Thanks for the tip! However, the URL you gave led me to an airline's web site! A web search hasn't turned up anything on West Jet inkjet film yet. Can anyone help?

-- Andy (akkup@mindspring.com), September 23, 2001.

Just an FYI-

the current issue of Photo Techniques magazine has a multi-page article written by Dan Burkholder regarding his enlarged digital negatives. He speaks of which Epson printers he recommends (Epsons, duh!), what transparency films he prefers, etc.

This process excites me, because of my past experiences with Photoshop, and my love for silver and platinum prints.

If anybody has any additional info, I would love to keep this thread continuing.

Andy Biggs

-- Andy Biggs (abiggs@tvmcapital.com), January 15, 2002.

I bought Burkholder's book, and found it completely confusing, and the proceedure much too complicated.

-- (bmitch@home.com), January 15, 2002.

I have the book, and I thought it was fairly good. He has some tutorial-like chapters on this that I more or less skipped, so I can't comment on how it is for a real beginner to digital imaging. He does have a sense of humor in the book, which is nice. I was able to make a few inkjet negs (Epson 870) and then silver prints, and they look fine except I have to tune my curves for my paper to lower contrast.

-- Marvin Moser (marvin@marvmoser.com), April 08, 2002.

Here's a URL with more info. It's not a substitute for the book, but it does give the basics of how to use Photoshop's curves to make the negative.

-- Marvin Moser (marvin@marvmoser.com), April 08, 2002.

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