I like all the stages of photography as art. From seeking out interesting characters among flowers, taking the photograph, editing and then printing. But I have spent the past three weeks improving my printing skills in the company of Richard Boutwell at Black and White Mastery.
It surprises some people when I talk about becoming a better printer. After all, don’t you just open up your print program, choose a paper size and push a button?
I’m happy to say there is more to it and therefore so much more to learn. Richard was teaching me how to use tools like Quadtone Rip that hack the Mac’s own print management software and give you some extra control over what an Epson printer is doing.
Richard’s software adds to the Quadtone capability, giving you power over how much ink you deposit on the paper as well as how much warmth or coolness you add.
These issues matter with black and white because printers aren’t optimised for back and white printing.
I’m not sure yet how much difference it is going to make to my printing. Good control over ink helps bring a graduation to changes in back and white tones and that could be important to some of my work but its impact is easier to see in landscapes.
Still, getting the feeling you have control is important.
Black and white forces a few disciplines on me. I can’t get away with shots that lack focus in key areas. I look more for the shape, texture and contour and yet I continue to look for expression and gesture in inanimate objects. Shooting colour I am more thinking of the sheer striking beauty of a flower.