When the right tools matter (and a bit about paper)

That photography is a tool-oriented art is not a new idea, but it’s sometimes surprising to me how much the tool can matter.  I used to fight with my old D70, but when I got the D300 it was like the scales fell away.  Finally a camera that got out of the way and let me get down to making pictures.  Even more so with the D700.

The same holds true for printing, I’ve recently found.  I’ve tried my own printing in the past, at first years ago with an early Epson inkjet, then more recently with a hand-me-down Epson R1800.  I enjoyed the process somewhat, but between me and making a print were too many hoops.  I never could get the color quite right in my home-made prints and the cost of ink was outrageous (a frustration compounded by frequent nozzle clogs that wasted far too much ink to get cleared).

With the launch of IndyHikes (something I need to write about here), I recently purchased a new photo printer, hoping to be able to sell prints to help support the project.  This isn’t a printer review, nor is it meant as an endorsement for Epson printers, but like other photo equipment, I’ve finally found a printer that gets out of the way.  (Or possibly, printing technology as progressed enough that many current printers are sufficiently slick enough to get out of the way, but I happen to have purchased an Epson 4900.)

It’s still not a perfect process, you  have to know about paper profiles and have the equipment and know-how to make the profiles if they aren’t provided by the paper manufacturer.  Finding the paper that works for each image and makes it really sing is just a blast, though.  And, better yet, seeing that the same image can say different things depending on what paper it is printed on adds a whole new dimension to image making.

So far, here’s a few of my favorite papers: Epson’s Cold Press Natural for warm-toned B&W, and Cold Press Bright for color images that work well on textured paper (like this: http://prints.pdaphotography.com/p251038326/h2342a7cd#h2342a7cd).  I also liked Museo’s Textured Rag quite a bit for color with texture and Moab’s Entrada Rag Bright for color without texture.  Moab’s Slickrock Metallic Pearl or Inkpress’ Metallic Glossy for a print that really pops but isn’t over the top (these papers are so similar I have trouble telling them apart).  Epson’s Exhibition Fiber is a very nice gloss paper, I need to experiment with this one a little more though.

I’ve been babbling about this sort of thing over on Facebook lately, so if you’d like to chat some find me over there.