Giclées, Pigment Prints & The Real ThingSaturday, April 27, 2013
|The Bond Girl that wasn't|
Then I read that National Geographic photographers (remember many moons ago) took an extra camera (a Nikon FM-2 loaded with colour negative film) when they went to remote places they knew they could not return to. The colour negative gave more leeway for exposure judgement and the Nikon FM-2 (I own and use three, and I used one of them in the picture shown here) worked beautifully without batteries.
I have always taken pride in being able to print my own b+w negatives (in the late 70s printed my colour slides and colour negatives). I still do. All the photographs listed as gelatin silver prints (arts speak for photographs printed on photographic paper in a darkroom) in my show are all pictures I have printed myself. Many on the wall and about 100 8x10s I have printed in the last three weeks. Some are from negatives I have taken either weeks or just a couple of months ago.
A few of the pictures will be identified as giclées (art speak for an ink jet print and there is another term used now with increasing art speak popularity, the pigment print). I have had Grant Simmons at DISC (someone I have trusted for at least 15 years to interpret my colour work) make an edition of small giclées (4 inches on the long side) which are 20 different and three of each.
These are inkjet prints done on beautiful and very heavy matte paper.
It was approximately 10 years ago when in a fit of anger I opened my living room window and threw my Canon inkjet printer out. I got lots of pleasure to hear it crash. I have not looked back since and when I want a good colour print I go to Simmons at DISC.
A silver gelatin print signed on the back in pencil by a photographer means (or should mean) that the photographer has personally printed from a negative in his or her darkroom. If the photographer is famous and or dead (Ansel Adams is a good example) and you find a vintage print (printed around the time it was taken) and signed in the back by Adams you might consider booking a long vacation on the Cayman Islands. You will be able to afford it.
Now what can be said about an inkjet printed by a photographer? You mean that the photographer pressed a button on his desktop Epson. The shine is a bit off until we learn that there is more to making a giclée beyond pressing a button. I leave it to artists (and an artist he is) to people such as Grant Simmons to make those prints for me. Does that make my giclées signed in pencil on the front less valuable? Probably except there is no way I could interpret myself in front of a very large inkjet printer that resembles the front end of an Audi with any degree of skill.
Something else I must broach here is the idea that a giclée cannot touch a “real” photographic print from a “real” film negative. As we who shoot film and print our own negatives is reduced to the same brotherhood of about to be extinct experts in French Polish or those who used to adjust spark plug gaps for a living, the idea that a giclée is somewhat inferior is preposterous. I would not have stated this just a few years ago except that I now find myself in making images in which the final result is digital and I cannot print these digital files in my darkroom. The pigment print then becomes the only avenue beyond showing the image on a computer monitor.
The bulk of my giclées for the show at the Duthie Gallery comes from either scanned Fuji b+w Instant Film prints (the prints are 7x7 cm) or by scanning the peel (a sort of negative). I must use a scanner. The Fuji instant peel is not transparent like that of a conventional film negative.
Other giclées are film negatives where I have scanned but kept the negative as a negative. And there is one giclée (show here) in which I scanned one individual frame from a b+w 35mm contact sheet (film used was Kodak B+W Infrared Film) which is quite tiny at 300 dpi to four inches on the long side. I love the result. A purist would say, “Alex photograph that frame with a macro lens and then print the negative.” That, indeed, is a solution. But as I approach this digital age at my old age I do not think I am that keen on patience just to be a purist. I have my own standards and I will not ever exhibit a picture printed by an Epson printer that is on my desk. I have a desk but I do not own an Epson printer. What I have is an Epson V700 Photo Scanner. With it, I sometimes feel I can do anything.
Whence they came?
The medium of my message
People, plants & passion
My personal take on Eros
A day in the garden and a solarized violin
A respite from isolation