Ilford Digital Fibre Workflow Tips

Discussion in 'Wet Process Machine & Traditional Prints' started by Bob Carnie, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi There

    I think that I should post some tips , do's and don'ts that we have learned here with the Digital Fibre workflow.
    It will be a bit rambling and I apologize for that but some of you have sent in work and I would like to avoid any lunchbag letdown as well I would like to keep the info on a simple to print methodology rather than digital mumbo jumbo.

    Ilford/Harmon Digital Fibre Tips Nov 2006.

    -clean all files before sending or we will do it for you if we catch the problems and charge for it.
    - do not email any files over 5mb to our personal emails, this screws up our mail.
    -Garbage In Garbage out- this does not change because we now have digital options.
    - we cannot fix bad capture or scans
    -Do not clip the highlight area of the file, there is burnoff at the Lambda and contrast control. we do test every file and will make printer adjustments before going to final.
    -we use a non hardening fix , there for you can tone at your darkroom, we can provide for a fee a 12" x 29" print that has 12 4x5 identical prints ganged up for you to cut out and do your own testing. *the paper is cold tone in Dectol* until Simon Galley provides us with the Warmtone version.
    -Do not over sharpen, the lambda is very good at this and let us know via email what your requirements are.
    -Don't feel you have to rezup in photoshop . the lambda is very good at this.
    -I have 30 years experience listening and following descriptions on how a print should look . therefore a ref print and a diagram is wonderful reference for me. We try to achieve the clients look and do not *stamp* our look on work. Sometimes this takes a few jobs to understand each other.
    -A dodge burn sketch is good for for me . We are good at this and we aproach the dodge and burn just like under an enlarger.
    -I use levels for density and contrast, my partner and the mac geeks use curves. we are comfortable with both.
    -Do not use the Brightness / Contrast tool for density and contrast.
    -Be careful with the Sponge tool. Unless you want to go crazy with it and mimic a lith print.
    -give your files a name and size rather than a bunch of numbers ie. rockface16x20.tiff . I will then be able to mentally refer to the image if discussions are required.
    -Please remember this is a hand wet process, for Limited Editions or reprints I cannot gaurentee exact results unless done at once.
    the process is in total darkness and my coordination is good but not at an Olympic gymnist level so there could be slight variations.

    We have found that there are different levels of experience with our clients , some with years of traditional experience and no digital, others with only digital and no traditional and in between. Here are a few thoughts about this.
    Level one-
    no experience digital. - give us the files in raw or as close to original and with communication *no essays please* we will do all the work to completion
    Level two-
    some experience digital- do the dust bust and basic dodge and burn and together we will work to make the final print.
    Level three-
    very experienced digital- give us your file , tell us to run on Lambda , no contrast no sharpening and we will give you your print.

    A few more tests for the initial times working with us.

    Ilford/Harmon has a rc version that mimics *but not the same exact tone* as the fibre.
    -We will gang print on the lambda rc, 29inch by 12inch sections with a fee for just outputting. *this would be good to see how the work looks and to make adjustments before going to final on fibre*
    We will run at 400ppi , No Contrast, No Sharpening.
    this will allow you to work in PS to prepare files.
    -gang proofing 2x3 inch colour files on this paper can open up possibilities for fibre printing from colour neg original or digital capture. remember the paper is RGB sensitive.Now I shoot a lot of colour and convert some projects to BW with this new capability.
    -Mag tests * this can be done at any service lab* Most people ask us how a file will look at larger sizes. Quite frankly I can only guess. I suggest doing mag test across highlight, midtone and shadow sections of a good file to see exactly how large you can push your workflow rather than quessing.


    This is a big advertisment for our Lab , but I feel that some of the above is very pertinant when dealing with an outside source.

    As well re: security. Kevin and I are not only the owners, but we both work on all jobs together. Our financial and personal reputation is at stake and we take your files very seriously as we have respected the negatives we have printed for years.The staff that works with us have been around for years and are artists in their own right, We stand behind our work and do everything in our power to give our clients comfort with handling their prescious work.
    Any questions on this paper I will try to answer on this thread and Kevin may jump in as well Harmons tech rep, Terry Bevins will be available to advise on questions Kevin and I cannot answer.
     
  2. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Bob,

    Some interesting tips. I do have some questions.

    1) Should a file be sent as 8 or 16 bit.
    2) I assume that the file should be RGB not gray scale.
    3) How long of a print can you do? I'm looking to print 10x36 inches with at least a 1 inch border.
    4) Is the preferred file dpi 300?


    Thanks,

    Don Bryant
     
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    Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Don

    The lambda converts files to 8bit.
    It can be either greyscale or RGB, from digital capture colour originals we would like to work in RGB
    The longest practical print that I feel comfortable with is 29inch by 80inch give or take a foot.
    We run at 400ppi at all times, but the Lambda is excellent for rezing up.

     
  4. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Bob,

    Is it possible to describe the aesthetic differences between regular fibre and this new digital fibre?

    Thanks,

    Tom.
     
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    Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Tom

    If all the planets align, ie very good workflow there is no visual difference. The paper has the same weight and look of any high quality paper produced from any of the manufacturers.
    As I am in a learning curve with this as is the other labs currently using this product it can only get more versitile.
    It is a cold tone print plain and simple.
    The biggest issue we have here is the input side of things, which I think are prevelant in any lambda , lightjet, chromira and inkjet process. If the file is not good then all the defects will show.
    I can say that what is very much the same as in regular fibre and this paper is the ability to render subtle nuances of tone that epson cannot.
    I have seen this time and time again, where a inkjet print from a file*which by the way to my eyes looks fantastic, is then ran on the new paper without even touching the file other than running at 400ppi rather than the prepared 300ppi and been suprised in the increased detail of the Harmon paper.
    We run Epson here as well and don't get me wrong the output is beautiful, but for black and white imaging this new product is the cats ass.
    Unfortunately I have not ran alot of Gallerie in the past so I cannot compare the new paper *gallerie G4 with extended red sensitivety* to the old. But I can say it is weighted like Kodak Elite and looks a bit like Elite and Ilford MG4.
    Sorry I can't be more fluent in my description.

    Bob
     
  6. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Bob,

    Thanks for that description, interesting to see your comments about the Epson inkjets. What kind of ratio between film scans and digital origination have you seen as the input for this process? I'd have thought that 400 ppi was going to limit the usefulness of many digital cameras for larger print sizes.

    Tom.
     
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    Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Tom

    Right now I would say the ratio is about 70/30 split . 70 being from scanned original and 30 being from digital capture.
    But here is an interesting point. We officially launched the paper this year in the same time space as Harmon launching at Photokina.
    Our lab is historically known in the GTA as a Traditional Lab.Over the last two months I have had more phone calls re the new workflow from photographers that I use to work with when I first started my company.
    Word of mouth is getting out, and my old clients are now flocking back but instead of film they are bringing in digital capture.
    I would imagine that within two years the balance will change to 60% digital capture, and 40% scan.
    We always thought that the historical factor of this process ie scaning old film would be big for us.
    On a personal note, I have scanned from the family photo box our complete family history , and now am making bound books and framed prints for my family from these old damaged prints and polaroids. Digitally I am able to balance and restore the work and now print on a archival media. It is making me the most popular son right now in my Dads eyes.
    So I think there will always be the scanning element to our workflow no matter how inticing digital capture may become in the future.
     
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