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SPE 2011 Report

by
Jon Cone
published on 03/15/2011 20:00:00
We always attend the Society for Photographic Education. It’s a great conference with a focus on photography with teachers and students showing a tremendous interest in digital that is just as impassioned as analogue.

Wells Smith, Sales Manager at InkjetMall, showing differences in the Warm Neutral and Selenium Glossy prints. 

One of the great opportunities for attendees was being able to go through our portfolio of Piezography prints. We presented the same image by Joel Pickford which we printed with each of the Piezography ink sets on three different papers. The subtleties of using different papers with Piezography inks was immediately noticeable.

For the second year in a row we displayed our digital film process for alternative process and backlit. This year, we introduced the Piezography Digital Negative process that I have been blogging on over at www.piezography.com We had examples of both RC and Fiber Base prints made with digital negatives up to 16″ x 20″.

While both of these Piezography digital film processes use the same ink set – the alt process uses seven shades and the digital negative now uses only four shades. Alternative processes often need completely or near opaque dMax. We can provide that just as easily as continuous tone. But, digital negatives need only a small tonal range in order to print from dMin to dMax – hence the use of less shades.

There was a significant amount of interest in our push button approach to alt process and digital negative, especially considering how high quality the results are. The digital neg ink system may become part of dual and triple quad ink systems as we move into 10+ ink printing systems of both Epson and Canon pro printers. The two new ink shades are part of an overall strategy to take advantage of printers with 10 or more ink positions.

The Firefly inks peep show!

We also introduced our Firefly™ invisible inks. Now this was a hit! It was very popular with the college students who can see the possibilities of using invisible inks as part of their work. The inks are only visible under black light. Dana Ceccarelli of InkjetMall had printed a lot of interesting images, most of which involved double printing. She would print a Piezography black & white print or a ConeColor print and then either selectively double print it with invisible inks, or completely over print it. The prints were displayed in dark boxes which had peep holes. The double printing drew the most attention. The invisible ink cartridges can easily be swapped out of desktop printers with either Piezography or ConeColor. So this is a viable solution. Nothing difficult.

Gail Wylie of InkjetMall had designed our peep show boxes which had internal black lights and allowed people to peep inside to see what the prints looked like in the dark. One possibility of these inks is to have darkened exhibitions in which the viewers are given black lights or the prints are displayed under black lights. The results of the prints being overprinted dramatically increases the three dimensional effect. Some of the samples Dana produced looked like they were actually 3-D constructions.

Dana Ceccarelli lifts the lid of the peep boxes to show the 3-dimensions are illusions!

Many of the attendees thought that we were printing three dimensional constructions. When we lifted the lids on the boxes, they were astonished to see that the prints were dimensionally flat! Double printing Firefly invisible inks on color inks may be the next best thing since sliced bread.

We gave away small Firefly UV blacklight flashlights. We had what looked like a completely blank sheet of paper on top of the dark boxes. It was actually printed with the Firefly invisible inks. They are only invisible in daylight and regular lighting. But, once the Firefly flashlight was shone on them (even under bright exhibition lighting) the printed images were revealed. Top secret stuff that!

The highlight of this trip for all of us happened outside of SPE. It was the Printmakers Gathering at John Dean’s amazing studio just outside Atlanta. I participated in this portfolio exchange along with several others: Walker Blackwell, Tyler Boley, John Dean, Lauren Henken, Bill Kennedy , Scott King, and Mark Savoie. Saturday night was our official portfolio exchange gathering. Each of us had produced two experimental prints for the black & white portfolio which we then shared.

We all also brought a lot of show and tell. One of the most exciting things for me to see was how well Piezography Gloss Overprint (GO) goes with everything. Tyler Boley showed new Epson HDR color prints that received an overprint of GO as well as new Canon prints. The color and glossiness of these were substantially improved. Even matte Piezography prints were enhanced – though they were not made to be glossy. The tone was deepened and the hue changed subtly by GO. Tyler Boley has convinced me that anything can be improved with GO. Yet, the GO was just a portion of what Tyler brought to share.

There were so many remarkable achievements by these printmakers that entire blog entries will soon be dedicated to each participant. Suffice to say that this room, that evening, was filled with a group of printmakers who are doing more to advance digital printmaking than any combination of OEMs. To say they are printing off the menu is an understatement. These are printmakers who are all doing their own thing, using whatever tools at their disposal they can combine or invent. The inventiveness was truly inspirational. The Piezography work was simply mind-blowing. But, this was all experimental implementations of the Piezography process.

For my contribution to the portfolios, I produced a Piezography Digital Negative silver print on Ilford Fiber Base and an example of my Old Tyme Process. I came back with two prints from each of the other members, each a masterpiece.

I should mention that we had some excellent bbq in Atlanta: Rolling Bones BBQ in downtown and before the Printmakers Gathering, we ate at Williams Brothers BBQ near John Dean’s studio.

Rolling Bones (atlanta) pork shoulder, succotash with okra, and cole slaw with golden sultans. And yes, I had the optional hot sauce.