I recently heard about an old photograph of General Robert E. Lee that sold at an auction not long ago for $23,000. The photo ended up at Goodwill in a box with other things that are sold by the pound. By chance a Goodwill worker came across it and recognized the subject. Since Lee lived in the 19th century and not too many photographs existed at the time, the worker thought it might be valuable. And he was right. The photo fetched $23,000 on the Goodwill auction site.
In this day of digital photography with CDs, DVDs and hard drives loaded with image files, that got me to thinking, just what is it that gives an image (or any art for that matter) its value? And I’m not just talking about monetary value, but emotional value as well–the kind of value that can reach across time.
To the artist that creates the work, value may seem an abstract thing, something that’s inherent in the work regardless of its final form. But to anyone else the media matters. It might be a piece of film, a computer screen or an inkjet print, but whatever “delivery method” is used for the art will have an undeniable effect on its value.
Which leads (as often seems to be the case on this blog) to the subject of inkjet printing. Specifically, how printing should not be considered a separate procedure to be done once the “art part” is finished, but rather it should be seen as an integral part of the creative process itself. Editing, cropping, picking just the right paper–all have consequences. All enhance, or detract from the final work. All affect its “value”. Admittedly, not all images (even very good ones) are suited for printed output. Yet all too often for those that are that final step of rendering the image to paper, of “finishing it”, is never taken.
It wasn’t always that way. In fact, not too long ago creating a physical print was absolutely necessary in order to see the fruits of your photographic work. But it’s all too easy these days to leave even your very best images in a kind of limbo on your hard drive. After all, you can view it on screen — isn’t that enough? Not for me. Until I’ve put that great image on just the right paper–until I’ve created something I can hold or hang, something I can pass to others, something that will last–it just doesn’t feel complete. It hasn’t achieved its full value.
Of course, printed images take up a bit more space than they do on a hard drive, and while it would be nice if we all had endless locations to display them if you’re like me you ran out of wall space a long time ago. That’s why I feel that proper storage is imperative for any serious photographer. And by proper storage, I don’t mean big hard drives. No, a system of museum boxes and portfolios are what’s needed here, something that offer protection as well as ease-of-access to your print-worthy work. (Just remember to let those prints off-gas before putting tissue paper over them and storing them away). Storing my photographs in a organized fashion allows me to keep a rotating selection of prints around as conversation pieces (and if I get really energetic I might even make a coffee table book–which is a whole topic on its own and one possibly worth exploring later.) But the point is, I make sure I have safe, convenient, logical storage for my prints.
Who knows? I could be wrong about the value of always printing your best work. Maybe years from now some raw file or jpeg of mine will be discovered in a box of sd cards (if old enough hardware to access them can be located) and some shot I made may transcend time to touch someone–or make them a lot of money. 🙂 But I highly doubt it.
For my money–it’s the images I’ve freed from the computer drive and shared with the world that have the real chance to stand the test of time. It’s those finished work, my prints, that really show their full value.
In addition to the introduction of Wide Gamut toning, ImagePrint 9.0 also greatly enhances its already existing black and white “Narrow Gamut” toning abilities. (This type of toning refers to adding relatively subtle casts to achieve effects such as selenium or sepia toned prints). Here’s a brief overview of the changes.
ImagePrint’s narrow gamut toning was the first introduced to inkjet printers and is still the industry standard due to its ability to “split tones” based on the highlight/shadow areas of the image and then reproduce those tones with advanced inking methods that eliminate undesired casts due to changes in print viewing conditions.
ImagePrint 9.0 ups the ante yet again by adding the ability to specify the tone in not only the highlights and shadows but mid-tones as well. That’s right–you’ll be able to individually adjust the narrow gamut tone in up to 4 distinct density ranges. Master-class black & white techniques previously only possible in the darkroom can now be reproduced right on your inkjet printer.
While we were at it we’ve also added contrast/boost controls right in the Narrow Gamut window allowing you to dynamically alter the density curve of the image as you adjust its tone.
Combined with ImagePrint’s amazing greyscale profiles, our narrow gamut image toning has long been the secret to success for hundreds of fine-art black and white photographers. With the improved Narrow Gamut Toning capabilities of version 9 we think you’ll find that the tradition continues.
One of the greatest strengths of ImagePrint has always been its state-of-the-art library of paper profiles. But such a vast selection always came with a price: namely, finding the right profile for your paper could be, well…kind of a pain. Hard to decipher file names. Cryptic quality, ink and light temperature choices. External download managers. You could easily spend more time figuring out which profile to use than it took to make the actual print. ImagePrint 9 seeks to change all that with a unique and innovative approach to profile selection–the Profile Valet. Here’s a peek at what to expect.
You don’t see an ICC profile name in big, bold letters on that box of new paper you just bought. No, it’s the easy-to-read and descriptive name of the actual media itself that appears on the label. So, when it’s time to pick the profile for that media why should you have to grapple with the jumble of abbreviations and confusing terms that make up a typical ICC/ICM profile’s name?
Well, with ImagePrint 9 you no longer have to. The new Profile Valet contains a drop-down list of all of the papers we’ve profiled for your printer—not the profiles—the papers. Just pick the paper by name (just like it reads on the box), choose a few basic options like color vs grayscale, and we’ll do the rest.
Of course, if you prefer the old way of choosing profiles, Choose by profile name will still be available. But for most people the Profile Valet will take the pain out of selecting the right profile and will let you spend less time fiddling with profiles and more time actually using them to produce amazing prints.
In the past, if you didn’t have a particular paper profile you would have to download it from our online profile repository. And while our Profile Manager utility simplified the task of getting and installing the right profile, it still meant opening a separate program, wading through lists of available profiles, and then choosing and downloading the correct one for your particular printer, paper and output needs.
What’s more—you could never be sure if we even had the profile you needed to get until you went through the process of logging in to check.
With ImagePrint 9 and the Profile Valet you’re always up to date. Each time the software launches, it synchronizes its list of available profiles for your printer with our online profile repository so you see a complete list right there in the Profile Valet’s selection window. And if the paper you choose requires a profile that isn’t already on your computer it’s automatically downloaded from the repository and installed — all without ever having to leave or restart ImagePrint!
Most people have a few papers they use over and over, but re-choosing the same profile and its associated settings each time you switch media can be a time-consuming, repetitious chore. That’s why with ImagePrint 9 we’ve added the ability to save the currently selected profile along with your other color management choices as a Favorite. Once added as a Favorite you can quickly choose it from the Favorites window.