“Printing Moves My Photography Forward”
“Printing moves my photography forward?” A handful of emails came in with this question as folks read my latest Print Lab (and thanks!). While all the steps, the mechanics of making a print are on my site and in the PDF, how we can learn from our printing isn’t listed anywhere there or on my site. This is because printing is a visual that must be witnessed and experienced in person. I post here a photo from Bryce Canyon I took back in Feb 2000 with the new digital Nikon D1. Its sensor (2.7mp) took this file creating the 11MB Nef file that I printed 24×30. It’s from that image, that print that I knew then that digital was it for me and never shot film after that time. It totally changed my career and more importantly, my photography, forever!
We hosted a Print Lab “party” for four dear friends a couple of weeks back at our office who wanted to learn for themselves from their images how to print. More importantly, how to print like masters so they too can move their photography forward through the lessons from their own prints. It’s only by looking at your OWN photographs that you print BIG can the miracle of printing take effect. For these four folks, it wasn’t until they saw the importance of a clean black, and how to obtain one and the huge impact it made did the importance of printing come into play. One of them had a sweet image of a Blue Angle on the ramp with a gorgeous sunrise behind it. By simply cleaning up the black and NOTHING ELSE, touching nothing else, that sunrise jumped off the print! The thing was that when you compared the dirty black print against the clean black print, the actual color or exposure of the sunrise had not changed a pixel. It was identical in both. It was the mere perception the brain made, the association it connected to that clean black that made the sunrise burn vivid. And without seeing it for yourself, none of this will make any sense.
The lessons about how to be better behind the camera come from being in front of a printer! You first have to concur the mechanics of creating consistently the print that the magic begins (where the Print Lab comes in). And then the more you push your printing, you will find that printing moves your photography forward.