What an evidence! A pleonasm… Of course I can create memory with photography. As I decided to spend 3 months in France and to walk along the wonderful coastal path GR34 as part of my sabbatical, I was wondering, how am I going to keep memory of that experience? Save weight and use my iPhone? Take a camera on top of all the equipment in my backpack (tent, sleeping bag, clothes, stove, food and water etc) that was already too heavy? And if yes which one? A small and lightweight one like my Fujifilm X100s?
My son Nils said to me: Take the camera with you on this trip you would otherwise regret leaving at home… And pick up a challenge like black & white photography…
In this case I would go fo my “new” Leica M Monochrom! And take my three modern lenses: Elmar-M 24mm ASPH 1:3.8, Summicron-M 35mm ASPH 1:2.0 and Summicron-M 50mm 1:2.0. And if I need colour on the way, I’ll use my iPhone…
But it is reasonable to surcharge myself with ~1.7 kg of photography gear (including orange filters, battery charger etc)? Now back from this trip I can say yes! Even if the conditions were not that easy for the camera and lenses: A lot of dust, sun and some rain. Beside a problem with the menu selection ring in the back, all survived without (big) damages. Only a short telephoto lens like a 90mm was missing or could have been taken instead of the 35mm.
You may see some colour photographs I have taken with my Fujifilm X-H1: I had this camera with its lenses in the trunk of my car before and after my walking stages.
Some photographs have “heavy grain”, vignette and other analogue styling effects: I discovered a film grain simulation program published at the IPOL Journal. I use it to make prints of some of these photographs. Due to heavy size reduction (to 900×600 px) the grain cannot look really good.
I used for decades a darkroom but what to do with all the digital files? I often gave my pictures for printing to labs like digitaloriginal.de or larger labs like saal-digital.de and never really invested time in printing digital photo files myself. This ends two weeks ago. I read a lot about carbon printing in particular at Paul Roark’s website, to whom I’m really thankful for his “open source” approach. I didn’t want to start big and spend hundreds of Euro to find out that the results are under my expectations. I bought a small 4-ink printer with Eco-Tank (Epson ET-2650) with the reasoning that 1 black and 3 different gray inks should be more than enough to get smooth grayscale tones. Paul had a similar approach using an Epson WF-1100 (13 inch printer, unfortunately not available in Europe). In parallel I ordered the EB4 ink set at inksupply.com. Last piece needed was the paper. For a first testing a bought a package of 50 sheets Epson Archival Matte and a package of Canson RAG photographique (210 g/m²). In total less than 350€.
How far am I now?
Loading of the ink wasn’t a problem at all. No clogging so far, but I think I need to print on very regular basis.
Also loading of the thicker paper wasn’t an issue – I’ll try also 300g/m².
But now I’m struggling with the software…
I started at first without a profile, just switching off any color correction in the Epson driver. Last one is very basic and doesn’t use the full potential of the printer – so far my experience. The prints were too light, but already showing the potential of this printing method. I really love the warm tone of the carbon ink. Also knowing that these prints will last for ages is giving a kind of security. As a next step, I checked the Quadtone RIP software of Roy Harrington, but the printer isn’t supported – probably much too basic… Then I tested all ICC profiles Paul Roark has created for his WF-1100. But most prints are too dark or suffer from some banding, I don’t see using other print methods. I hope to overcome this by creating my own profiles: This is Epson print preview:
I followed Paul’s way to create an ICC based on a printed grayscale wedge and can now at least anticipate better on the screen the result. The best results I get now are based on the following workflow:
Adjust my picture in Capture One based on the ICC profile I created for visualization.
Export the file to my – in parallel running – Linux system.
Print the file with PhotoPrint, a software that uses Gutenprint. I setup Gutenprint using the Epson L-120 printer driver. This is working quite well. At 2880×1440 dpi the printer is really slow!
We spend some days in the Cévennes (parc national) last summer. The very changing scenary invites to take pictures all day long. I focused this time using my Fujifilm X-T2 mainly with 23mm 1.4 lens. Few pictures were taken also with the 16mm 1.4 one. I also used my adapted Contax G 90mm 2.8 lens. My plan to use the jpeg files directly failed. I still prefer to develop the files with Capture One. Here some results:
I developed some old black and white negatives I was storing in some drawers. Actually it was a lot of fun. I prepared my own developer based on the recipe of Barry Thornton:
bath A: 6.25g metol + 85g sodium sulphite for 1 litre
bath B: 12g sodium metaborate for 1 litre
Only one Ilford deta 100 film, that was expired for more than 10 years was a bit “flat”. I also managed to dry them without having to much dust on them: I used a dryer cabinet produced by Jobo and simply changed the filter… I scanned the negatives with my Minolta Dimage Scan Elite 5400 at 2700 dpi (equivalent of 10 megapixel image, that’s more than enough!) and used my new favourite development program Capture One (version 11.1) to convert them to positive images.
I really enjoyed the process and decided to use film more in my photography.
Wake up early and photograph the sunset: Nothing very uncommon! But I like the result because of the wunderfull colours. The Michaelsberg is a special location in Bamberg: The monestry founded there for more than one thousand years offers a wonderful view over the city.