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Digital Imaging — Customer Successes

Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing

University of New Mexico Instructor John Mann has revived the lost art of platinum/palladium photo processing and printing in his classroom, following a digital negative procedure developed by noted photographer and author Dan Burkholder. Burkholder is the author of Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing.

"With this application my students build on their digital knowledge while reviving an important historical photographic process," explained Mann. "Digital negatives allow the students to have hands-on interaction and control over their imagery in a chemical-free environment. Creating a digital negative is also very economical compared to the traditional chemical and darkroom method.”

The digital negative process for platinum/palladium printing starts with scanning a negative and digitally manipulating it until achieving the desired balance between tones and size (the platinum/palladium process is known for its extremely long tonal scale). The photographer works on a positive image and, with a single keystroke, transforms the image back into a negative. Once the negative is ready, it is printed out, with any standard ink jet printer, onto transparency film. This is a contact print process, so a negative's size has to be adjusted to accommodate the desired print size.

"The only transparency film I have found that has the ability to build up enough ink density to create a digital negative with this process is made by the Pictorico brand of ink jet media," said Mann. “Other substrates cannot hold enough ink to block the light.” Once the negative has been printed out onto the Pictorico transparency film, it is placed over a substrate that has been hand coated with light-sensitive emulsion; it is then exposed to ultraviolet light.

"I love the platinum/palladium process because it is literally ‘hands-on’, and I can choose from a wide range of substrates like watercolor and fine art papers.“ Mann continued, “My class revolves around a spirit of experimentation with both process and imagery. Students are encouraged to explore how their imagery responds to printing processes and media.” Pictorico, which recently introduced 17"-width transparency film rolls to go along with 81/2 x 11 inch sheets, produces several ink jet media substrates including glossy film, watercolor cardstock, canvas and polysilk.

"It is a bit ironic, but digital technology can actually help keep traditional photographic processes alive,” said Chip Pryor, national brand manager for Pictorico. “We credit Dan Burkholder and instructors like John Mann for finding creative new applications that advance the art and science of photography."

Dan Burkholder added, “When a new material extends the boundary of photographic expression, it's always exciting. At a time when traditional materials are fading from the photographic landscape, Pictorico's Premium OHP Transparency Film arrives on the scene as one of those pulse-raising products that lets us make enlarged negatives right on our desktops."