In 2007 one of the last large format continuous tone films that I use for photogravure disappeared from the market. It became time to bite the bullet and “get digital”. I had guessed that with a couple of months of testing I would arrive at a reasonable method of creating desktop film positives for photogravure as well as film negatives for a variety of other processes. I was wrong. I tested many methods of creating film using a variety of printers and inksets and methods. The results generated film for photogravure that was dissatisfying and lacking in quality. Nearly two and a half years, lots of time, inks, printers, and material’s later I am finally satisfied with a new system for making digital negatives and positives.
Photogravure has a fairly unique ability among alternative processes to “render the dither” brilliantly. I do not want to see dither at viewing distance, I do not want to see it at close distance, and, I do not want to see it with a loupe. Frustrated and a full year into near daily testing I spoke with Mark Katzman creator of “Photogravure.Com”. Mark mentioned during the conversation that John Cone and his Piezography inks might be worth investigating. The Piezography method of black and white digital printing replaces the standard color inks in an Epson printer with varying shades of monochromatic pigments. I met with Jon at his studio in Topsham,Vermont to see his piezography inks printed on film. It was apparent at first glance that piezographic inks on film rendered incredibly fine highlight dither, high resolution and an incredibly long tonal range. This method of generating film involves using Quad Tone RIP developed by Roy Harrington as the printer driver in conjunction with piezography inks and Curve Calculator ll, a curve calculating software developed by Mark Nelson.
During the testing I consulted frequently with Mark Nelson creator of Precision Digital Negatives. PDN is a system for creating spectral density negatives from Epson color inks. This system combined with Mark’s brilliant curve generator software “CCll” creates the finest possible spectral density digital film for almost any contact print photographic process. Mark is currently making the most beautiful photopolymer plates and prints I have ever seen.
In addition to copper plate photogravure plate making and printing services I will be offering private and group digital film workshops using piezography inks. Please visit the workshop link for more information. Custom made piezography digital film services for a variety of contact print processes will be offered in the near future. Please see the contract work section of this site.