digital negative : LUSENET : Black and White Photography: Digital Printing : One Thread

Hi, I am a traditional black and white photographer who is interested in going digital. What I would like to do is to start with a high resolution scan of my negatives and then edit them digitally on the computer. I would then like to be able to print out a negative version of the edited file on transparency material and contact print this on conventional photographic paper. My question is this, can I print out from a printer on a peice of transparency something that has the same density range as a normal negative? Thank You Arthur Nichols

-- arthur nichols (, March 29, 1999


The short answer is "No." To get even close, you'll need to output your images to a high-end imagesetter. The problem is that Postscript only uses 256 shades of gray, so your skies will show mottling in the adjacent values. If you're outputting an image with mostly shadow values or hard contrast between adjacent objects this will not be a problem. An example would be a scene shot in the giant Redwoods in Northern California with no sky showing. Move a few miles west to a Pacific Ocean sunset and you'll see the limitations of Postscript. Try this as home on a 600 dpi printer and the problems will multiply.

You'd be better off investigating some alternate direct-printing processes. I'm just getting started with doing this in black-and-white myself. Check out Cone Editions at and Digital Rainbow at for information on the Iris Giclee process.

You might also want to check into Lightjet 5000 output. Evercolor Fine Art at and Calypso Imaging at are two good labs for that process.

If you can wait a few months I'll have some information in a Black-and-White World article after I've learned more about these processes. If you're in a hurry please keep in touch as I am on the learning curve too and would appreciate any tips and pointers along the way.

-- Darron Spohn (, April 07, 1999.

Aloha, I don't know if you are familiar with Dan Burkholders book, Making Digital Negatives ISBN 0-9649638-6-8. I have used the techniques. and combined them with a method outlined by David Fokos, (you can find the paper on the Bostick & Sullivan web page). I have used these methods to out put digital B&W negs, using two service bureaus in SC and TX. The bureau in TX made dithered bitmap negs on their typesetter, and the service bureau in SC made stochastic negs on theirs. Both made pretty good negs for me to use with cyanotype and ziatype(palladium) emulsions. Though I don't think the can match an original large format neg, they do produce some interesting prints. I am considering an Epson inkjet to make my own negatives. I tried an Alps printer (MD5000) last fall, and quickly came to the conclusion that it didn't come close to what I was looking for and sent it back. well this is kind of rambling, but anyway I hope it adds to the thread, I am also looking for a way to make digital, large format neg for contact printing, and for the time being have gone back into the darkroom to make direct postives by enlargement on Kodak SO-132, which is working quite nicely though at $4 per 8x10 it's a little pricy! Good luck, Jeff

-- Jeffrey Bunting (, June 05, 1999.

I'm new to this list, starting down the same road as Jeffrey and Darron and would appreciate updates on anyone's progress. Just ordered the HP S20 scanner and Photosmart printer and will post what I learn. Coincidentally I just ordered Burkholder's book and am in the middle of Fokos's piece.

-- Jackson Burgess (, July 04, 1999.

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