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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Software Review: Kevin Kubota's Pro-Pak w/ Dashboard

Article & Images by Kristin Reimer

One of the first lessons I learned about being successful in photography is that it is 20% photography and 80% business. I watch photographers come and go on a regular basis. Who remains? Obviously you need to have talent to begin with, but if you know how to market yourself, stay focused, consistently evolve with the times and stay ahead of the pack, chances are, you will be a success.

So what does this have to do with Kevin Kubota’s Actions? He knows his stuff. If you haven’t yet checked out his actions, the bad news is that you’ve wasted precious moments of time—the good news is that there is no better time than the present. Kevin Kubota’s actions are now packaged with an awesome addition called DASHBOARD.

I’m not really sure who began to market action sets, but I will confess, I’ve been an addict ever since the day I discovered these time saving gems. It’s easy to find actions these days and there are some deliciously creative ones out there. I’ve been using Kevin Kubota’s Artistic V2 actions as well as his Auto Album 2 for years now and I rely upon them heavily. Simply put, they save me time, and they are creative and easy to use.

The Kevin Kubota Pro-Pak contains roughly 300 actions to help not only boost your creativity, but also increase your production and help clear time so that you can actually get work done quickly and get out to enjoy the world again. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The production actions range from border actions, interpolation, sharpening, B&W conversions and logo placement. Yeah, you can do these on your own, but why? Enjoy the fact that someone has already done the work for you. Spend your time getting creative. And then get creative with Kevin Kubota’s Artistic Action Volumes 1 – 4.

(l. to r.) Original photo, final image, Dashboard, Photoshop palettes. Screengrab © Kristin Reimer.

Original on the left. Image on the right created using Punch Drunk with Vignette. Photos © Kristin Reimer.

The artistic action options are endless. Not only are the effects inspiring but with names like Fashion Passion, Super Heroine CS2, Kiyoko Punch, Enter the Dragon, Punch Drunk—you know your visual taste buds will be watering to get busy. Even better, if you are curious at all about what the action does, feast your eyes upon the creative descriptions that accompany each one.

Now let me return to the beginning. So, aside from the actions themselves and the funky and descriptive copywriter, what sets Kubota’s Pro-Pak above the rest of the pack? The DASHBOARD.

Now, if you don’t have any addictive behaviors of your own, or if you don’t like to collect things, you may not understand the value of the DASHBOARD. What happens when you collect too many things? Clutter? Can’t find what you are looking for? Waste time searching? DASHBOARD is going to rock some housecleaning in the world that is Photoshop.

DASHBOARD is essentially a floating menu window that keeps your actions organized, easily accessible and easily searchable. Go to the top right and you can pull your menu down to access each pack of actions that Kevin has been producing over the years. To the left of that pull down menu you can enter in a keyword and the DASHBOARD will call up the actions to suit you. Type in moods such as “funky”, “creative”, “moody” or go with genres such as “wedding” and “portraiture” and you’ll see actions displayed that are best matched to your request. Loving it yet?

Once you find the action you want to apply, head on down to the bottom of DASHBOARD where you have a few options. With one touch of the buttons in the bottom of the toolbar you can “apply”, “undo”, “redo” and “paint”. Paint is pretty nifty. Essentially this creates a mask and you can simply paint the action in specifically where you want it to go.

Original photo on the left. Image on the right created using Smokeless Burn, Tea Stained, 81K warming, Wash Out. Photos © Kristin Reimer.

On top of all of this, the Pro-Pak is simply easy to install and understand. I will confess to limited patience for watching online manuals or detailed installation instructions. The installation did come with a video manual, but it was simple, clear and to the point. Installation itself was a breeze and the manual was simple to read. But the reality is, the Pro-Pak and DASHBOARD are simple. Simple means you get to the fun stuff right away…and I was certainly the kid in the sandbox in a matter of moments.

There is one downside to the Pro-Pak, you’ll be having so much fun playing with your images and combining the actions together that you will lose track of time and forget about the outside world. But hey, think of the possibilities.

Original image on the left. Image on the right created using Sepia Deep Black 3. Photos by © Kristin Reimer.

Kevin Kubota Pro-Pak [Kubota Artistic Tools V1, Kubota Artistic Tools V2, Kubota Artistic Tools V3, Kubota Artistic Tools V4, Kubota Production Tools V2, and the Kubota Formula Book] with DASHBOARD can be purchased online at: http://kubotaimagetools.com/store/catalog/product_16263_Kubota_Pro_Pak_w_Dashboard_cat_258.html.

System requirements: Actions work with Adobe Photoshop CS2 or newer, some effects require CS3 or newer 32 bit versions of Photoshop only, on Mac and Windows computers.

The Pro-Pak retails for $629.00.

Upon graduating with a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Kristin went on to become the studio manager for the esteemed Magnumphotojournalist, Elliot Erwitt. Under the tutelage of Elliott, Kristin acquired a more capacious understanding of the history of photography and of the unique and diverse contributions of those who define the field. Her work with Elliott also provided a forum from which to create and develop her own artistic style.

In 2002 Kristin founded Photomuse (www.photomuse.com), a fine art/documentary style wedding company. Kristin is an award-winning member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), a professional organization composed of photojournalists and wedding photographers from around the world as well as the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photography (AGWPJA) and the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP).

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Product Review: M-Rock 671 – McKinley Photo Backpack

Article & Photos By Kristin Reimer

With the newly arrived M-Rock 671 McKinley bag filled with gear and packed into the truck, we set off on our expedition and drove into the wild. The temperatures were in the single digits, the blizzard blinding us as our truck veered precariously on the icy road. The rapids of the river below us was roaring. Would the McKinley’s “water resistant exterior zippers” withstand the maelstrom and protect my gear? As we made our way I had confidence my equipment was tucked away safely thanks to the reinforced interior of my new M-Rock bag.

Okay. Well, the reality of it is, coming from Brooklyn, Pennsylvania is indeed wild country and the Delaware River can get some um, well, mild rapids. And there was snow! That I was on my way for a holiday family reunion, can that be counted as an expedition?

In any event, I had the perfect opportunity to test out a new camera bag. Like many others, I love camera bags, so I was excited that this would be my first review here on Picture-Soup.com.

As a wedding photographer, I rely most heavily upon my roller bag. My typical kit consists of three camera bodies, three Speedlights, and about five lenses. I usually have a smaller bag to carry various accessories. My current bag tends to stay packed and it’s always ready to go. In the frenetic pace of the day, this bag will receive a nice beating as I rush from place to place. So when applying for the job of the Photomuse (my studio’s name) gear bag, your qualities had better be: spacious, portable, easy and strong. Good looking is always a bonus.

The McKinley was a hopeful player. I received a large number of dividers, a removable accessory bag that could be tied around my waist if desired, in addition to multiple compartments both inside and out. I could fit a 15” laptop in a soft pouch in the bag (or an optional hydration pack for those extra special weddings!) and there was a nifty little “wire port” that would allow headphones to pass through should I decide to turn this bag into a backpack.

The McKinley was a charm to customize to my tastes. The bag seems to be constructed very well (though I lost several of the nylon zipper pulls quickly), the size was decent and I managed to get in most of my gear. Once I began to fill in the outside compartments (batteries, chargers, card wallet and cords) I found that I was pretty stuffed and use of the inside compartments would not happen.

This bag is designed to be flexible which is a great thing. Its portability is from the added trolley that you can remove and thus turn it into a backpack when desired. The removable accessory bag can further be added onto a modular belt system. The concept is brilliant. The M-Rock’s interior is fantastic, the cushioning is thick. The flaw I found in it is because the bag is not a part of the trolley, once I had it filled up, the bag itself would slip away slightly from the trolley and I could not get it to stand upright, it kept tilting forward and almost falling on top of itself. The trolley aspect needs to be more sturdy and secure to support the weight inside of the bag.

Overall, this bag wouldn’t work for me on my wedding jobs, due to the way I like to work. The quick access to the lenses is nice, but I find myself switching between camera bodies and lenses often and I like to have quick access to the entire bag’s contents by opening one zippered compartment, not multiple ones. For a travel photographer, it might be your fit. It’s flexible and tough. When you are no longer in transit, remove your trolley, slip it onto your back, slide your tripod into the bungee cords on front and head on out! You can drink from a hydration pack while hiking with it on your back and you can hook into your tunes. What a way to tune out and focus in.

For specs and more information, be sure to check out M-Rock’s website at: www.m-rock.com.

Upon graduating with a BFA in photography from Pratt Institute, Kristin went on to become the studio manager for the esteemed Magnum photojournalist, Elliot Erwitt. Under the tutelage of Elliott, Kristin acquired a more capacious understanding of the history of photography and of the unique and diverse contributions of those who define the field. Her work with Elliott also provided a forum from which to create and develop her own artistic style.

In 2002 Kristin founded Photomuse (www.photomuse.com), a fine art/documentary style wedding company. Kristin is an award-winning member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA), a professional organization composed of photojournalists and wedding photographers from around the world as well as the Artistic Guild of Wedding Photography (AGWPJA) and the International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers (ISPWP).

Look for more articles from Kristin here on Picture-soup in the future.

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