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Monday, January 7, 2008

Aesthetics Of Black And White

Digital technology and equipment give you more control and the ability to make the finest black-and-white images ever, but there's an art to coaxing the best print from your image files

Just as cameras have megapixels, printers have dpi (dots per inch). For high-resolution prints, images should be output at about 300 dpi, and as they get larger, dpi can drop to 200 to 250 dpi. Equally as important, printers disperse ink to the paper in picoliters. The smaller the droplet, the more refined the detail. Large-format printers often use 2 to 4 picoliters; basic models can use droplets as condensed as 1 picoliter.

Printers are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, from common desktop to large-format printers. These printers generally are capable of producing prints at sizes of 17 inches, with some producing prints of up to 60 inches. The upfront costs, ranging from $1,000 to thousands, are offset eventually by bulk paper costs (available in rolls) and bulk ink cartridge sizes.

“We've made prints on wood veneer, sheet steel, aluminum foil, silk, Japanese papers, mulberry papers—just about anything that we can get through the printer we've done prints on,” says Holbert. “I can't remember anything that we tried to print on that didn't ultimately work. It's pretty amazing.”

Inkjet printers, for the most part, use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) color space. Typical color spaces in most working formats are RGB-based (red, green and blue). Printer drivers, specialized RIPs and ICC profiles act as intermediates for translating color workflow between your computer, the printer and the paper, determining dot structure, ink layout, print speed and, of course, the all-important RGB to CMYK conversion.

Many newer printers feature sophisticated drivers for converting and handling black-and-white images on their way to the printer. Canon and HP drivers include on-the-fly grayscale conversion, and Epson's Advanced Black and White Photo driver handles complex black-and-white conversions with options such as density selection, toning and more.

Visit John Paul Caponigro's Website, www.johnpaulcaponigro.com, for a gallery of his work and topical tutorials. R. Mac Holbert started the fine-art digital-imaging printmaking studio, Nash Editions, with Graham Nash in 1990. Visit www.nasheditions.com.

Canon | (800) OK-CANONwww.canon.com
Datacolor | (800) 554-8688www.datacolor.com
Epson | (800) GO-EPSONwww.epson.com
Hahnemühle | (815) 502-5880www.hahnemuhle.com
Harman | (888) 372-2338www.harman-inkjet.com
Hewlett-Packard | (800) 752-0900www.hp.com
Media Street | (888) 633-4295www.mediastreet.com
Moab by Legion | (800) 278-4478www.moabpaper.com
Museo (Crane) | (800) 268-2281www.crane.com
Pantone | (201) 935-5500www.pantone.com
Red River Paper | (888) 248-8774www.redriverpaper.com

X-Rite (MAC Group) | (914) 347-3300



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