Inkjet Mall
It's been way too long since my last newsletter. And its not for lack of anything other than time. I've just finished a busy print workshop season, and concluded the James Nachtwey collaboration at Cone Editions. I've been in development of new products and new inks - even working on a new P600 system. We've also been very busy manufacturing and gearing up for our annual Black Friday sale which starts a week from now. So now for some recent happenings...

Practicing What We Preach
WITNESS TO HISTORY: JAMES NACHTWEY-AFGHANISTAN, GROUND ZERO, IRAQ

The James Nachtwey exhibition is now up at the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH until December 14. These 17 images represent 3 years of collaboration between James Nachtwey and myself assisted by Dana Ceccarelli. The printing all took place at Cone Editions Press. We collaborated often 18 hours a day. No greater labor of love could be possible over such an extended time. 

Each of the 30 x 40 prints was printed with either Piezography Selenium inks on JonCone Studio Type 5 paper or ConeColor PRO HDR inks on vintage Epson Exhibition Fiber. (yes unfortunately, Epson changed the manufacturer and formulation of Epson Exhibition Fiber. We invest heavily into papers that we like because this happens so often.)

In both the black & white and the color prints, Piezography Gloss Overprint has been used to finish the prints. On the color prints, the saturation and dMax are incredibly enhanced by GO. It's a best kept secret.  Piezography GO should be in every serious printmakers studio. You can use a printer with as few as one working ink channel as a GO over-printer. The more channels the better - but it works just fine with one. What it does to standard Epson, Canon and HP inks is just as remarkable to what it does to Piezography and ConeColor inks. It's a bit like going from one speaker to stereo.

I've collaborated with Gordon Parks, Richard Avedon, Gregory Colbert. I worked for 2 or 3 years with each of these photographers to produce museum projects or in the case of Avedon, his last living portfolio. But, this is the first museum exhibition in which the museum itself acknowledged Cone Editions Press. When you enter into the first of several large rooms, a prominent plaque titled "Nachtwey & Cone" greets you with a bit about our collaboration and also about Cone Editions Press long history. It was unexpected.



Seeing the exhibition twice now, what I find overwhelming about the photographs is the result of so much subtle dodge and burning we did together often for days on end. The slight tweaks to color and tone. The impact of seeing the prints in a museum setting was so different than the experience of living and breathing them in my own studio. These photos sound absolutely still. No matter how tragic the content - these photos remain in perfect balance and harmony. James is  considered to be the world's most famous war photographer. When under great duress his eye is rock steady, imaginative, and poetic. This exhibition reveals that he is also a Master.  Currier Museum curator Kurt Sundstrom said, "He's never printed at this level before in his career." 

James wrote, "The qualities that define a great print maker are talent, patience, perseverance and character. Jon Cone stayed with the process on every print, with genuine enthusiasm, until every detail had been resolved and each image achieved unity and visual integrity. He's a true master."

J ames Nachtwey and Jon Cone at Cone Editions Press   Photo Credit: Cathy Cone

It's not just the perfection (something James strives for when he prints.) It is more about producing something masterful. Masterful and perfection are not the same. While they support each other, perfectionism would be hollow without mastery. In mastering an art, perfection prevents distraction - certainly unless its intentional. The viewer has a very unique experience in this exhibition. There is nothing that one can pick on, pick out, be distracted by. Not from the printing technique, nor the too rapid development of film by Time/Life, nor the inherit defects of the early Canon digital sensors. Those were edited out. We may have spent 100s of hours side-by-side searching for color bloom, grain worms, and sensor mis-alignment. Each of these printed photographs speaks its truth of what Nachtwey witnessed in the most beautiful way. If a final print could just be that tiny bit better by lighting that tiny bit there or darkening something just ever so slightly, the print was pulled again. If that brought attention to a slightly imperceptible magenta cast, it was adjusted. Proof after proof. Until it just felt finished.

I think that the lesson here is that master works are not produced with hours in Photoshop staring at a display. Rather, they are produced by spending hours staring at proofs - full sized proofs - making decisions about what they require. That decision making is where art happens. It is intuitive. The execution of those decisions becomes perfunctory in Photoshop. Photoshop becomes the handmaiden in the act. The decision making however, is not related to what one sees on the display, nor influenced by the complications of software - but rather is influenced by what one sees on the Print. That is how it always was (pre-digital) - yet it remains just as valid today. Maybe it is even more important today. You can not hear an image on a display. The Print, if you are sensitive to it - shouts out loudly and with great obviousness about what it needs.

I hope you can make the trip to the Currier to see these. Otherwise, please ask to view them from their permanent collection by calling ahead.

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 New Product Developments
A palladium print test in the clearing bath
PIEZOGRAPHY DIGITAL NEGATIVE FOR 1430
Piezography Digital Negative is on the move again! This time - specifically for the Epson 1430 printer as a six ink (shades 1-6) film system designed for Pt/Pd, Carbon, Silver and Cyanotype - and for regular Piezography printing using the same six shades. I will port this to other printers soon. I will also make new curves for each of the ink tones. No reason why a Carbon K6 can not also make perfect negatives. This negative is different than the previous 3 generations. The densitometry involved is through UV rather than optical densitometry with particular sensitivity to platinum and palladium.

I've built a new Pt/Pd darkroom at Cone Editions Press and will offer classes in Pt/Pd next Spring. Platinum / palladium printing is often regarded as the "platinum" standard in black & white traditional photographic printmaking. I have always thought of Piezography as Pt/PD printing but with more highlight and shadow detail. Pt/Pd is known for very long mid-tones. Gorgeous grays...  That is what Piezography does. Piezography is born out of my 1990s Digital Platinum for IRIS product. When I released it at PhotoPlus Expo I became Digital Innovator of the Year by PDN/PIX. I had imitated platinum printing using a $123,000 inkjet printer called the IRIS 3047. The inks were formulated here in Topsham. The software as well. The costs of the system were in line with the economic realities of the first professional gliclee studios. Epson at the time had not yet made their first photo inkjet printer. Time sure changes things...

Ferric Oxalate stirred, not shaken
Pt/Pd printing has a reputation as being very difficult to master. And it is with conventional negatives. What my new 1430 negative system does is build in contrast control to the media curves we supply. All you will need is to supply an image. No more complex chemistry. But, if you know complex chemistry you can apply it. If you would rather control contrast through chemistry you would be able to. However, it really will not be necessary even with the most skilled practitioners. My goal is to democratize Pt/Pd printing. The more people practicing it - the more materials that will be preserved. I hope those practicing it for decades will not feel that I am opening the floodgates - that is not my intention. The goal is to enable photographers to make high standard alternative process without having to have decades of experience.

PIEZOGRAPHY PRO UPDATE

Piezography Pro was delayed as a release this year because we wanted to incorporate the GO printing at the same moment as the ink printing. Firstly, that will permit those with X890 and X900 printers to print GO if their printer has a  sensitive paper sensor that will not permit the double printing. Piezography Glossy would move from a two printing application to just one printing. This was worth the delay in our opinion.

Dana has been working on this project at the same time I have been working on digital negative. We have solved this issue. But, we need now to develop new inks for Pro. We will try for Spring release. Possibly we will offer lab batches of ink as an early release while we ramp up production of the new ink shades. Pro is planned now as a dual quad ink blending system for 8 ink and up printers. But, we may add another toning tweak to it. The upgrade path from existing systems will not be difficult. It is worth waiting for, but you should not hesitate to jump in now with a Piezography2 or K7 system.


EPSON P600 / P800 UPDATE

We are very close to releasing an ink system for the Epson P600 printer. Although Epson has designed the new SureColor printers P800 and higher (in their words) "t o be used exclusively with genuine Epson inks and cartridges", they did not do this with the P600. However, they did find some way of blocking off ink synchronization with non-OEM chips on the P600. We are working with several chip producers and a working P600 system will be available from InkjetMall possibly before the end of the year. I am already developing a new digital negative system for the P600. Yes we have refillable inks working on the P600 in our R&D. We have printed 1,000s and 1,000s of sheets. Our system is going to be solid. We are now just re-engineering tubing that will work with long term exposure to Epson OEM inks as well as our ConeColor PRO and Piezography inks.

At this time it does not look so good for the P800 and the large format P6000, P7000, P8000 and P9000 printers. By "not so good" I mean possibly not in 2016. I would not recommend buying these printers with the expectation that you can use your own choice of consumables. These printers are not allowing any write backs to non-OEM chips. When Epson says it designed these printers to be used "exclusively with Epson" cartridges, they literally mean that. So, time will tell if some small window can be opened on these platforms.

Frankly, each time we hit a new platform we have the same anxieties. But, this is the first new platform in which the OEM has purposely designed some mechanism by which to lock in the consumer to no choices in consumables or replacement parts. I'm not certain how well that is going to work for either the consumer or the OEM in the long run. That is just an opinion of course.

 Look who's coming to InkjetMall!
Walker Blackwell
Walker Blackwell is joining InkjetMall! We are totally excited!! Walker is someone I have admired for quite awhile. Walker is a printmaker, artist, web designer, community organizer, and organic vegetable farmer who came to the digital field as a teenager during the flux between analogue and digital in the late nineties. That is how he describes himself. I would say he's a cross-hybridization of technical genius and artist. 

He founded Black Point Editions in Chicago, co-founded and backed  Latitude in Chicago, and currently manages the lab at Light Work in Syracuse NY. He has earned his chops to be sure! He will be joining us in the capacity of technical, research and product development. He will also be taking over our technical support forum. Walker moves (back) to Vermont and will be raring to go the beginning of January. He is known to all of us here at InkjetMall for many, many years as a customer. It's just so right on so many levels.


Learn More

Black Friday Sale coming up next week!
Yes of course we're having it. Nuff said about that! Begins next Wednesday evening - maybe a little sooner... All coupons will be suspended and discounts will be right on the webstore. We do not encourage phone in orders during this time - as discounts are hard coded into the web items and prices can change rapidly as the inventory depletes. So don't hesitate! I'll send out an announcement when we start the sale.

Shop by Inks
You can shop for ink refills and sets of inks here.

 
Shop by Printer
This is where you can find all the products we sell for your particular printer model.
 
Shop by Accessories
Cartridges, paper, resetters, workshops, and all the rest.

 

So there it is. We've been busy as I mentioned. Thanks for reading my newsletter. I hope that you like the new format - and that it is finally mobile compatible! Next January we launch an entirely new InkjetMall.com webstore that will also be mobile friendly. It is also taking up 100s of hours of my time (possibly contributing the most to the lack of newsletters...)  I think the new website is going to make shopping and learning much easier.

Happy Printing,



Jon Cone
InkjetMall