The thing I want to talk a bit about today is something that makes me quite excited and something that has been my goal for a while now. I’m talking about printing. This is the direction I want my photography to take, a stronger emphasise on the final product. I certainly enjoy sharing my work online and will no doubt always continue to do so, however, there has always been something special about holding a finished print in your hands; there’s something final, tactile and, ultimately, very satisfying about it.
Up until now I’ve only had a cheap little Canon printer and, while it does produce decent prints, it doesn’t exactly inspire you to print a lot. Before going out to look for a new printer I actually made another photography-related acquisition, which is of some relevance to this whole endeavour. Up until fairly recently I’ve been doing my editing on a TV as my only screen. This has many times proved to be far from optimal, with terrible colour accuracy and very punchy contrast. So, the first order of business was to get a monitor that would let me edit my photos with the confidence that they actually look like I want them to. After much researching I decided on the Eizo Foris FS2333.
Before this I had never even heard of Eizo but they’re highly recognized in the world of professional retouchers, graphical artists and people who demand the very best when it comes to monitors. The one I got is marketed as a gaming monitor and it’s one of their cheapest, but don’t let that fool you. This is the best monitor I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in front of and it has made the process of editing my photos so much more enjoyable. If you don’t have a huge budget for these things but are still willing to spend some money, I really can’t recommend this monitor enough. The fact that it also comes with a 5-year warranty shows that it’s a company who knows they make quality products.
After gaining confidence that prints would match pretty well with what I was seeing on the screen, it was finally time to save up for a printer. As usual I conducted a fairly thorough research before settling on which one to get, which ended up being the Epson R3000. I also got two different papers to start with: Ilford Galerie Prestige Gold Cotton Smooth and Ilford Galerie Prestige Gold Cotton Textured – if those names aren’t a mouthful, I don’t know what is. Both of the papers are matte fine art papers and, as the names imply, one has a smooth surface while the other is more textured. They’re also both in A3+ size, gorgeous and heavy and feel really luxurious. Speaking of heavy, I had a near death experience carrying everything home. In total it weighed in at around 23 kg and the box for the printer was, shall we say, rather bulky for someone of normal size. Neither does it help that there’s a very long and steep hill, followed by some stairs, that you have to climb to get to our house from the place where you pick up the packages.
The process of setting the printer up and installing it was straight forward and then it was time for the first print. Let me tell you, I’m in love. The prints look amazing and I wish I could print everything, though the price of both paper and ink makes me take hold of myself before I go overboard. I’m printing straight from Lightroom and with the correct profiles installed the colours of the prints matches the screen beautifully. There is a learning curve to it though, as I’ve noticed that deep shadows needs to be lightened a bit, or they will lose detail in the final print.
I’ve printed a number of different things on both papers and I know I’ve made the right decision; this is what I want my photographs to look like, this is how I want people to view them, this is what I’ll take out and show my daughter when she’s older, this is what I’ll be hanging on the walls. The transitions between colours and the subtleties that this printer and paper can handle are just amazing. The smooth paper shows gorgeous detail that makes you want to press your nose to it in order to truly appreciate it. On the other hand the textured paper lends a dreamier quality to the print and makes some scenes, like the sunrise over a misty lake, look almost like paintings. The examples in the photos above doesn’t come close to doing the actual prints justice, you simply have to see them in person.
As I mentioned before I intend to hang some of these prints on the wall but I’m also planning to print my best stuff and keep it in a nice box as a kind of photo album. Sure, I could just show my photos to people who come over on the screen, but it doesn’t compare to pulling out a print like this and really take the time to appreciate it. In a world where media consumption keeps going faster and faster, overloading our senses, I find it immensely rewarding to slow down and actually hold a photo in my hands, in a large format, enjoying the feel of the paper and watching it come to life in a way it could never do on the screen.