Creating Large Format Negs with HP Wide-Format Inkjets

By Kristin Reimer

Photography has been evolving since its conception, however the age of digital seems to be ushering in new technology with a rapid speed that has exceeded the industry’s expectations. New technology brings with it fresh ideas and creativity. It’s often inevitable when things are new, that it will bring with it, its share of critics and curmudgeons who must have something negative to say.

When I had been asked to write this article about the HP DesignJet Z3200, with the Large Format Negative Application, a printer that has the technology to create large format digital negatives, I was very excited. I thought to myself how far this industry has come and how exciting these times are. My thoughts immediately took me back to my days in college learning photography… more specifically, it brought me back to the stone age days of laboring over making the perfect digital negative that I could use to create my platinum and palladium prints. I was young, I was impatient, I wanted everything “now” and on top of it, I was made even more impatient from the constant inhalation of chemicals in my little darkroom.

Times Have Changed

As I read about this printer, I drooled and immediately began thinking of getting into non-traditional processes once more. I had been wanting to for a long time, one of the things holding me back was the reaction I had to thinking about the time extensive process, not to mention the expense of, making digital negatives.

I immediately heard the wedding bells of technology, the marriage of digital photography and alternative processing. I saw myself barefoot in the kitchen printing out thousands upon thousands of digital negatives and spending my time lovingly stroking platinum over a sheet of paper, confidently sandwiching my perfect digital negative and placing it under U.V. lamps to finish to perfection. The end result—exquisite.

As I was mapping out my plan to become the supreme ruler of non-traditional processes, I had another thought; everyone else and their Uncle Bob would be too. I’m sure by now you’ve heard all the rants that have come from how easy digital photography has made it for the masses to partake in our profession. This brings both advantages and disadvantages. The market changes, it becomes tougher to keep the proper rates, it becomes more competitive. On the flip side, it forces us to become more creative, it forces us to push ourselves, to find ways to stand ahead of the pack, to stay away from complacency. This is the attitude that led Hewlett-Packard to push ahead and create this innovative tool for our industry.

“Invent.”

HP’s slogan was created in 1999. I think they chose wisely.

I want to digress a moment here for a history lesson. You won’t be quizzed, but there is a nifty little tidbit at the end.

Sir John Herschel, mathematician, astronomer and chemist, made significant contributions to the birth of photography. From Sir John, we received the word “photography” which is Greek for “light” and “writing,” in addition to the terms “negative” and “positive.” Sir John also contributed to the work of fellow photography pioneers, Niepce and Daguerre, supplying them with his discovery of an early photographic fixer.

Joseph Nicephore Niepce, chemist, brings to us, the invention of photography, and the world’s first known photograph in 1825.

Louis Jacques Daguerre, artist and chemist, was also working to perfect the process of early photography. From Daguerre, we have received the famous Daguerreotype. Daguerre was in direct competition to William Fox Talbot, inventor of the calotype process, and the first to hold a patent in Britain for this early photographic process.

In 1829, Niepce and Daguerre formed a partnership to further explore and create in the world of photography. Unfortunately Niepce passed away a few years later. The contributions by both live on today.

In those early days of photography, the art world was ablaze with excitement about this new process. Just as we often think there are too many photographers working today, the new processes brought to the photography world brought an ease that had the masses rushing out to create “Daguerrotype Studios” worldwide. Of course, with the creative excitement, came the local critics. Many artists claimed photography was not art. It was considered “soulless” and simply a “mechanical process.” Many artists felt photography threatened their livelihood and the invention would destroy the world of painting.

Sound familiar?

Photography continued to expand and develop. Competition continued to grow and boundaries and creativity continued to be pushed further. By 1884, the photography world saw the development of film by George Eastman.

Digital Merging with Film and Alternative Processes

The birth of digital photography began in the 1960’s and by 1990, the first digital camera was available for commercial sales.

Just as in the late 1800s, the debate raged between painters and photographers, so today does one often see a debate between digital and traditional photography. In the early days it was in relation to the lack of personal touches eliminated by using a mechanical box, much as today we are presented with further mechanical debates, which seem to take photography even further away from “art.”

As digital photography entered its more mature years, we began to see another faction being created, that of traditional film photographers who stood firm in their craft, abstaining from further mechanical interferences to their art. The film faction holds that it can be seen as being even more artistic for its connection to the human touch required. The “alternative processes” that employ even more of the human hand, the mixing of chemistry, the precious metals that are painted by hand on to a single sheet of paper, have raised the bar, and the price tag of another early aspect of photography.

And here is where Hewlett-Packard enters my history lesson. Just as photography began with mechanics and chemistry, not the “arts” per se, so too has HP entered our world. Similar to the birth of photography, HP was birthed in technology, not the “arts.” In the early 1800’s a partnership was created between two chemists, Niepce and Dagueere that led us to this exciting new world. In the early 1930’s, a team of engineers formed a partnership to create a company that would eventually find itself involved in a rich history of photography and creative leadership. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded their business in 1939, and in the 1980’s they entered the photographic printer market. How’s that for that “nifty tidbit” I tried to entice you with earlier?

And for those us who are working in digital capture? Imagine being able to take a digital file and transform it into an actual piece of film, and to be able to do in a way that one can afford! Let your mind run away with ideas of the future of your photography.

Preserving Photographic Masterpieces

hp photo for picture-soup.com article

Gabe Greenberg with a negative being printed on the HP Designjet Z3200. Photograph courtesy Elliott Erwitt.

Of course, this printer has another wonderful selling point. In the hands of masters that we have studied, this is a way to preserve old negatives and to ensure that a fragile archive and its history isn’t lost. In the hands of master photographer, Elliott Erwitt, the HP DesignJet Z3200 was used to create 30×40-inch, perfect renditions of his most iconic images in platinum. Who would have dreamed we could afford to see 30×40-inch platinum prints? Erwitt and HP have bridged our “mechanic” digital world with the artistry of years gone by and allowing precious, original negatives to sit undisturbed in a proper climate to ensure they will remain preserved in history.

Gabe Greenberg and Elliott Erwitt reviewing the negative. Photograph courtesy Elliott Erwitt.

On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to have worked with Elliott Erwitt for a number of years running his studio. I wish I could fully describe what it was like as a young photography student viewing his vast archive of negatives. The history at my fingertips was awe-inspiring. I was able to see the elaborate and time-consuming process that happened with every print that was created in his darkroom. Elliott treats his tools with the utmost respect.

Making the print. Photograph courtesy Elliott Erwitt.

Elliott keeps the tradition of photography alive, but I also know how much he respects his time and strives to work the most efficiently he can. The HP DesignJet Z3200 must be a welcome tool to his studio, one which enables him to keep his archive of negatives pristine and enables him to produce gorgeous gallery prints while leaving him time to continue making the art we all know and love.

Elliott Erwitt with the final platinum print for picture-soup hp article

Elliott Erwitt with the final platinum print. Photograph courtesy Elliott Erwitt.

HP has raised the bar and has closed the gap between artists around the world. With that gap closed, we may find some competition among ourselves, but I urge you to join in on the fun and see where that competition may take you. Without the early competitiveness of Talbot and Daguerre, I wonder where we might have ended up?

More information about HP Designjet solutions is available at www.hp.com/go/designjet. Retail price from $ 3,496. (24”) to $ 5,799. (44”).

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Book Review: Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital

By Diane Berkenfeld

Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital, (ISBN 9781402756566) is an impressive volume tracing photography from the earliest cameras through present day digitals. The book is written by Todd Gustavson, the technology curator for the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, and published by Sterling Innovation, an imprint of Sterling Publishing (www.sterlingpublishing.com). The book, which spans a timeline of almost 200 years, includes photographs of over 350 cameras from the collection, as well as more than 100 historic photos, ads, and drawings, and tops out at 368 pages.

The George Eastman House is the oldest photography museum in the world. The museum’s collections include 400,000 photographs from 9,000 photographers; more than 20,000 items of camera technology; and one of the world’s most comprehensive library of photographic books, manuscripts, and journals. Author Todd Gustavson has been working with the museum’s technology collection of 20,000+ artifacts, for more than 20 years.

“Each camera represents an insight—some by a single inventor, others by a team of scientists and engineers—that there was a way to do things better,” writes Gustavson in the book’s introduction, to the reasoning behind those cameras included. In addition to the history of cameras, from the very first known photograph through modern day, special cameras from the George Eastman House collections that were owned by renowned photographers were also included as well as some of the most iconic imagery by these photographers, using those cameras that are now part of the Eastman House collection.

“While choosing collection items for the book, it was continually exciting to access the Eastman House archives, which feature both the images and the cameras that together tell the story of the history of photography,” said Gustavson. “This is the first time a book has showcased photographic history in this way, illustrating a photograph next to the camera that took the image, either the exact model or in most cases the actual camera.”

The book features the first faint image caught by Niepce’s camera obscura in 1826, Joe Rosenthal’s Speed Graphic, which took the Pulitzer Prize-winning image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima; and two cameras owned and used by Alfred Stieglitz that created his famed photographs of New York City and wife, Georgia O’Keefe.

Camera also features artifacts such as the Giroux daguerreotype camera from 1839, signed by Daguerre; an 1840 full-plate daguerreotype camera owned by Samuel A. Bemis, one of the first cameras sold in the United States; an 1860 sliding-box camera from Mathew Brady’s studio; a 1884 Racetrack camera owned by Eadweard Muybridge; the earliest-known Kodak camera, no. 6 off the line in 1888; and a 1900 Brownie from the first month of production. Also included in the book are Ansel Adams’ own Brownie and Kodak Vest Pocket cameras; the pre-production model from the O-Series Leica; a NASA Lunar Orbiter from 1966; and the first digital camera, created by Kodak’s Steve Sasson in1975, along with an image it created.

Also included are Deardoff and the Sinar P2 large format cameras; Hasselblad, Mamiya and Rolleiflex medium format cameras, Pentax, Minox, Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Minolta cameras are also included, among other less known brands; Edwin Land’s Polaroid cameras including the popular SX-70; and the Kodak Handle Instant Camera, which was an instant camera introduced in 1977, but was short lived when Kodak lost a patent suit to Polaroid. Early Fuji Quicksnap, the first one-time-use camera is included too.

I think Camera is a wonderful treasure trove of photographic history, however I feel it ends too abruptly in the digital age. Early cameras—both Kodak branded and those made by others—are featured in great length. But when the book reaches film cameras of the late twentieth century and modern-day digitals, I can think of at least a dozen additional cameras that might have been included.

(I will preface the following list by saying I don’t know if these cameras are part of the Eastman House collection.) These include: APS or Advanced Photo System film cameras; the Ricoh RDC-1, an early digital with direct modem access; the Minolta Dimage V, which had a lens that could be removed from the body and attached via a yard-long cable for shooting; the Kodak EasyShare V570 with its dual lenses, and the Sigma SD9, the first camera to utilize the Foveon X3 image sensor. I would even go so far as to say the Polaroid 20×24 camera should have been included.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the early miniature and spy cameras of the 1800s. I also enjoyed seeing the actual cameras (in most cases) that were used to capture some of the most famous images. I wonder if the Eastman House collection includes more of these camera/photograph combinations. Also interesting was the included essays by Steve Sasson, the father of the digital camera. For the average digital camera/photography enthusiast, who may have never heard of Sasson, the expanded coverage is a treat.

Camera, A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital would be a great addition to the library of any camera enthusiast or photographer. With the price of $45, the book is well worth the investment.

For more information about the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, go to www.eastmanhouse.org.

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The Power of Photojournalism in War

By Jason Etzel

In 1832 Senator William Learned Marcy spoke the phrase, “To the victor belong the spoils.” Although first spoken (or at least documented) this was not a new concept by any means for those who won a battle of any kind. With a victory you could design how it would be viewed to those alive [at the time] as well future generations who would read and learn what you left behind as history of this battle. This meant that selective editing could always be done by the victor, filtering words, omitting particular events or details, artistic renderings showing how they wanted the victory to be recorded.

And in 1832 this was still true, until technology changed how history would be written—by both those who triumphed and those who felt defeat—by the invention of the camera, it would now be seen unchanged. In the world we live in today, doctored images are common knowledge, we know now what is seen may or may not have been really there. For hundreds of years historical figures were seen only as their statues or oil painted portraits perceived them to be. Battles were drawn showing honor and courage without really showing tragedy, violence, or loss.

In 1839 when the camera was first shown to the public, everything became real and an instrument in the field of journalism. The first war images are credited to an anonymous American who took a number of daguerreotypes during the Mexican-American war in 1847, and for the first time the face of the soldier was seen. The first known war photographer was Carol Popp de Szathmari who took photos of various officers in 1853 and landscapes where battle took place in 1854 during the Crimean War. However it was in 1861 that a portrait photographer in New York City named Mathew Brady changed the world of photography and journalism as we know it.

Having mastered the new art of photography from his time studying under the skilled daguerreotypist Samuel Morse, Brady had a thriving portrait photography studio. His subjects included numerous historical figures including past and then present Presidents of the United States of America. When the first shots were fired of the American Civil War in 1861, and against the wishes of friends and family, Brady put the essentials of his studio into a wagon and made his way to the battlefield at Bull Run. At Bull Run Brady took images of the war-torn landscape of destroyed buildings and bridges as well as the dead littering the countryside.

At times he was so close he was nearly captured by the Confederate soldiers. This was not a commissioned painting, nor an article being written for a newspaper, to be released to the public. These were images being taken, processed, and printed from where it all happened and they spoke louder than any cannon fired during any war. Through the course of the Civil War, Mathew Brady and his team of photographers captured the bloodiest battles as well as the faces of the men who fought on both sides.

War was no longer a distant battlefield; it was piles of dead soldiers and a country tearing itself apart. Many feared on both sides that the images showing war would cause both an escalation to stop or continue the war. Photography became a weapon itself, as many photos were staged with bodies moved into positions to manipulate public perception of battles.

As the years passed so did the purposes of photography and war. It was used for reconnaissance, intimidation showing strength of arms and new weaponry, and even to confirm the deaths of famous figures such as Dale Titler’s photograph of the downed plane of the WWI German Ace Manfred von Richtofen more commonly known as “The Red Baron” to discourage the German people and lower moral.

The chaos and confusion of battle was illustrated to the world with Robert Capa’s images from the landing at Normandy for the D-Day invasion of Europe. Joe Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” and Alfred Eisenstaedt’s “V-J day in Times Square” have also become timeless images showing triumph and victory on distant shores as well as at home.

During the war in Vietnam, newspaper correspondent and columnist Joseph Galloway often fought alongside the troops he covered with his cameras, documenting the conflict around him.

Perhaps one of the most famous images of the century came from Eddie Adams with his portrait of an execution of a prisoner of war in 1968. It led to not only a Pulitzer Prize for Adams, but many claimed it changed the balance and political opinions of the war in Vietnam.

Nearly 150 years after Mathew Brady set out to capture the American Civil War, photojournalism still continues to advance, educate, and at times manipulate conflicts worldwide. Just as Andrew Jackson used paintings and monuments to tell stories of victory and triumph, leaders today use the press in all of it’s forms—particularly photography—to show the frozen moments in time that they want remembered.

Sometimes they can immortalize a great achievement and cement your place in history, however it can also backfire as President George W. Bush found out in 2003. By flooding the media with images of him on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln with a banner reading: “Mission Accomplished” many would believe the war ended that day in the Fall of 2003, however the conflict remains and now the banner is a mere punch line for a joke, and a large part of his presidential legacy.

Today’s media is no longer limited to just words, images, and video but also can include computer graphic based animations and renderings. For most, the portrait of Barack Obama altered by Shepard Fairey is considered a sign of change, others saw it as a violation of a law on the copyright of AP photographs. All the same it became part of everyday culture and awareness around the world.

The photojournalists are the eyes and the ears for the world. On this Veteran’s Day, it is important to remember and be grateful for those people who have been the eyes and the ears for us all—and the sacrifices they made to do so.

? Jason Etzel is a working photographer who is well respected in the photographic industry today. For 15 years he has worked for companies such as Unique Photo, B&H, and Dyna-Lite, providing sales, education, and research development of photographic products. In addition, he is also a frequent contributor to photographic publications such as Photo Insider and other photographic blogs. Even though he is based out of New Jersey, Jason is frequently seen from coast to coast at photographic events discussing the history of photography, where it is today, and where he hopes it is going tomorrow. Look for future articles by contributor Jason Etzel on Picture-soup.com.

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