More and more of us are viewing our pictures on a screen, whether it is a phone, tablet or computer monitor. The new Canon EOS 5DS captures each image to a whopping 50.6 megapixel sensor, each RAW file is between 55-60mb in 14bit at 8688 x 5792 pixels producing a 16bit tiff at 300mb’s and there isn’t a monitor on the planet that can do this amount of capability justice. There is however another technology that can not only realize all of the above but even challenge it. Enter the good old-fashioned fine art print or more specifically the modern day equivalent, the fine art digital print.
Even the very best monitors barely get close to a paper size of A2 and if you want to see part of a file in detail it means zooming in. These days print is almost limitless and in my own home I have an IPF 6450 24” fine art printer which can produce a full A1 edge to edge print in 12 colours at 600ppi in 14 bit. Canon is unique in that they not only design and manufacture cameras but also wide format fine art printers and the two share technologies from decades of development.
There’s something beautifully tactile about ink on paper and having a piece of work that you can hold in your hand. There are also very solid reasons for using print as a medium
Print is archival for in excess of 150 years, way beyond any current digital technology. Colour, contrast and brightness vary from one screen to another, not so with print and there is a very tangible monetary value associated with fine art printing. A print can be seen from any angle and the detail is viewed in context as we the viewers move closer or farther away. And unlike a monitor print has the additional dimension of paper, I can choose whether to print on matt, satin, gloss or pearl. For a fine art photographer the print represents the ultimate expression of their work enabling complete control of what the viewer sees. In my opinion the advent of a DSLR that can produce a 300mb 16bit tiff will lead both serious amateurs and professionals to take a closer look at the digital darkroom and fine art printing.
For me there are three types of magic in photography. The first being in the capture of a picture and all that is associated with the subject matter, composition and light. The second is in how I post produce the picture and my interpretation of the RAW data and how I then create the look and atmosphere. The third is the process of making a print. From the alchemy of monitor calibration, paper profiling, paper choice, balanced viewing light and finally the deep appreciation of all that has gone before now realized in this the most perfect and by far the most rewarding medium I know.