Wall Street Journal Article - 'Giclee' Prints roil the world of painting

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Sean

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fingel said:
It seems that digital is now invading all aspects of art. I just got done reading an article on the NY Times website about a 'digital xerox' for copying or producing stone sculpture from 3-d scans or cad drawings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/22/technology/circuits/22mill.html?8hpib

I think you have to sign up to read it, but it is free.

I've read it, and you've gotta feel sad for the 'non-lazy' stone carvers out there devoted to their hand crafted work. The stone carvers who start embracing this new technology will now shift full throttle into -born again- digital user mode and preach to their fellow carvers "it's great! and who cares if it does 98% of the carving, it's only the final product that matters! Anyone who thinks otherwise does not know what art is and is an elitist luddite". Soon the stone carver publications will be chock full of "Mill5 Machine" advertisements preaching the new era of stonecarving has arrived, and with it a new freedom to be truly creative and not held back by inconvenient tools and pesky stone dust. They'll be bombarded with software advertising such as "StoneCAD v2.3 - Serious Software for Serious Stone Carvers". Another art form is assimilated into the wonderful world of digital fast food.. -end rant
 

Andy K

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Sean said:
..digital fast food...

Which pretty much sums up how a lot of us see digital.

Home-cooked meal or McD? The choice is yours. :smile:
 

Jim Chinn

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One thing I find that is true about digital being used to emulate other media is that it is a lot like a new puppy that sh**s all over everything. What I mean is that all of a sudden people are discovering this tool and producing tremendous volumes of crap where before an artist had to take time and toil to create a work. My experience is that the more time and effort a work requires, the better the work of art.

I know of two photographers in NY who have popular web sites and photoblogs. Both would shoot film and always produce a couple of good and sometimes outstanding images every week. Now they have switched to full digital mode, post dozens of pictures and I have only seen one that is good since the switch. What is it about digital that makes someone think every damn piece of paper that comes out of the printer deserves to be seen in the light of day?

As far as the examples that Sean posted, the first one, the real water color actually is good. I could vomit on a piece of water color paper and produce a better picture then the other two.
 

steve

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mrcallow said:
I think we are arguing different points -- or maybe I am.

In my mind and based upon my experiences...
A photographic print is generally if not always superior to the same image created digitally. A lambda/lightjet prints are often close and an inkjet always comes up short. I have yet to see a digital B&W print that surpasses the 'real' thing.

A print that is made by hand, even if my logic is twisted, is preferential to a machine print.

This not to say a digital image cannot be art.

At the end of the day, as an artist, I prefer the photographic process. It is more natural for me. An added bonus is that the prints are quantifiably superior.

Meanwhile, using digital to deceive or imitate is stupid. Blindly accepting that the print you buy, as steve contends, as being superior simply because of the process can also be stupid.

I'm interested in what you think makes a photographic wet darkroom made color print superior to a LightJet print, and how they are quantifiably superior. I find it difficult to accept absolute assessments of superiority - since I could probably show you examples where one type of print works far better for the image than another type of print.

The stuff from a Frontier machine I would agree with the assessment, I can see the scan lines without a using a loupe, and once you notice them you can't ignore them. But, when I've had LightJet prints made, I can't see the scan lines unless I get at least a 6x loupe (12 lines / mm). When I've put a LightJet print next to an Ilfochrome that I've made from the same transparency, as good as the Ilfochrome looked, to me the LightJet looked as good if not better.

As for an inkjet print - totally different look from either a wet darkroom or Lightjet print. They're really a different effect. I would certainly agree that on glossy paper, they come up short. Also, prints from inexpensive inkjet printers generally suck badly. I have an Epson 1280 and an Epson 9600 - believe me, the results from the 9600 are in a completely different category than what comes off the 1280. Sort of the difference between sending a negative out for a machine print versus the same image made by a custom lab.

When used with a high quality rag matte paper the ink printed effect can be stunning given the right images. They have a look that is between a photograph and a lithograph because of the pigment ink printing instead of dyes. There is no covering over the image like you have in a photograph and the image rests on the surface rather than under an emulsion.

I've just finished a series for a photographer who does abstract color work with lots of camera movements. They're printed on Moab natural 300 gram paper with torn deckle edges - and they are nice. Aesthetically superior to the same images printed as standard color photographs.
 

Mateo

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"I'm interested in what you think makes a photographic wet darkroom made color print superior to a LightJet print, and how they are quantifiably superior"

Chunky looking high values.
 

jd callow

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Mateo said:
"I'm interested in what you think makes a photographic wet darkroom made color print superior to a LightJet print, and how they are quantifiably superior"

Chunky looking high values.

Steve, Mateo

I said:
A lambda/lightjet prints are often close.

I should also add (as I've said in another thread) that they can exceed a traditionally made print on mural enlargements or enlargements that will require high multipliers.

They are also superior when manipulation to the neg is required that can only be done digitally. This should be taken as a given.

The long and short of why they are close but not as good is resolution and the limitations of the files sent to them.

The current batch of LJ's and lambdas print digital files at a res of 300 to 400 dpi and use digital files. A traditional c-print has marginally higher 'res' on normal stock (not all that perceptible) and perceptibly higher on glossy and flex 'papers' (fujiflex, duraflex). The digital files do not contain the breadth of colour of a neg.

These are the quantifiable issues. Especially for me. I print highly saturated images on to gloss, high gloss and flex materials.

The statement referred to me and my preferences and those items that I know to be true.

It is all fine and well to enjoy the ability to produce whatever it is *you* wish to , using what ever process on what ever materials. I have the option to use digital or traditional. I choose traditional in almost all instances, because it is more natural, and quantifiable superior in the areas most important to me.

If my requirements involved intense dodging and burning, as well as things not available in the darkroom (e.g. sharpening, perspective control, or even making it look like natural media) than I might say that digital was quantifiable superior in the areas most important to me.

jdc

FWIW: I work with and follow the industry as a matter of employment. I have setup and used a lightJet 2080 which was built to burn film and had the capability to burn paper at its lowest res. This was and is still the best digital printer I have ever used.
 

jd callow

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I should also add that I am not mel gibson (even though my avatar thinks he is) standing, face painted, spear in hand ready to fight the onslaught of digital until the last drop of blood falls from my veins.

Here is what i posted in another thread

me said:
I spend 3 days a week doing digital imaging, networking, and general IS.

I started working with computers professionally in the mid 80's. The promise they held for an artist was exhilarating. after 20 years of progress, with equal doses of gratification and manipulation as administered by the hardware and software companies has left me very cynical. I am fully from Missouri when it comes to all things computers.

I am very skeptical of the hype surrounding digital. From a real world perspective -- as in using the stuff daily for 20 years -- it is not as advertised.

Meanwhile, I am one of those people who loves the life cycle of photography. From choosing the correct film through exposure, souping, enlarging and viewing. I find grain and the characteristics of film beautiful. The process is natural, intuitive and fulfilling.

Others, less jaded than I, might feel differently.
 

anyte

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Sean said:
I must have a very rare outlook on photography. I have a deep emotional connection to the scene and am compelled to use real materials to capture the light from it. Sometimes it feels impossible to express why I find this so important, I just can't seem to make some people understand. I 'feel' the light lives on in the film and print, a moment in time that I experienced is still there, burned into the film, and the film itself produces the print. Once computers do their thing, what was once there and somewhat real to me, no longer exists. It may appear to be the same thing but it's been completely changed. If you love photography, and love experiencing a real moment of light and time, I can't relate to that moment being altered out of existence as soon as digital manipulates it into something else. I almost find it tragic.

Too me there's something far more personal about connecting through the camera to create the image. There's something very satisfying in seeing something, finding the right light, composing the image - were I able to have a darkroom I am certain I would enjoy that end as well.

To me that connection is lost in using digital tools to manipulate, enhance, and/or alter the image. Once the connection is gone the emotion dries up and the image loses meaning.

I think digital art is stunning but I don't enjoy it as much something crafted with natural mediums. You can create textures but they don't stir the same emotions in me. It all seems so uniform, too tightly controlled. All the natural mediums, they are not uniform, they do not apply uniformly. There's subtle variances in their application, variances that I have not seen applied to digital works, variances that only add to the finished piece.
 
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