digital printing on washi
- Note: Hiromi is a store in Bergamont station, Santa Monica, that specialized in selling Japanese paper ("washi").
Washi Spirit Goes Electric
"Digital Inkjet Printing of Photographs on Japanese Paper"
by Steve Cohen
I had been doing traditional silver gelatin photographic prints for Bruce Meade of Hiromi Paper for quite a while. I had also been learning digital scanning and printing, and about a year ago I started offering those services in my lab, Silverworks Photo and Digital Services in Santa Monica.
I told Bruce about my new service and he asked me to do some digital prints for him on high quality cotton rag inkjet paper. He then decided that he wanted to try printing on Japanese paper. (Gampi Torinoko White - HP-71).
I scanned his images creating a high-resolution file and printed 13"x19" images on the Gampi paper. I had never printed on this type of paper before and had no idea what the results would be.
When you do inkjet digital printing you have to be sure that the printer knows which type of paper you are using so that it matches the inks you are using to the paper type-glossy, matte, etc. This is called profiling and all inkjet printers and papers have profiles that must be used in order for your system to decide how to print your images. Printers have driver software that do this automatically once you tell the system which paper you are using. You can also create your own custom profiles. Since Japanese Paper is not inkjet coated I had to figure out a profile that would produce the best results.
I decided to use the same profiles for Epson Enhance Matte paper as a starting point. To my surprise the profile I used worked out and I was able to make truly beautiful prints for Bruce. After seeing the results that I was able to achieve for Bruce I wanted to try printing some of my images on Japanese Paper as well.
I am primarily a black and white photographer for my personal work and I am very particular as to which paper I print on. I was very interested in trying new directions for my images and found the Japanese Papers intriguing.
Bruce was kind enough to bring me several different types of washi, as Hiromi wanted to have examples of digital printing on Japanese Paper to show customers. So I made a set of Digital prints for exhibition in their show room. (Editors note: The results of this experiment was very successful. To generalize, the Japanese papers tend to have a slight muting effect on colors, as the paper absorbs the ink more than coated western inkjet paper. If your image is one that doesn't rely on color that pops you may want to try printing on washi).
For my own personal work I decided to use a relatively thin Gampi (MM-28), but printing on really thin paper creates its own problem. The printer would crimp the paper because it would not feed through without getting stuck on the feeding mechanism at the bottom of the printer. To overcome this problem I have to pull the paper gently to keep it flat as it comes out of the printer. (Editors note: Steve made several beautiful black and white prints on MMN-28, a machine made Gampi. He found that scanning a transparency provided the highest quality print.)
Bruce helped me in my paper choice and I really appreciate his efforts. I find that I like the thinner papers with warm brown tones the best, and look forward to trying a variety of Gampi papers. I have a new and different way to display my images now.
For technical information I use a PC computer with a Le Cie monitor. I drive a 2200 Epson printer with Imageprint, a color management and profiling software. Imageprint is a software that automatically matches the printer to the computer and basically what you see on the computer screen is what you will get in the print. This is the most frustrating part of inkjet printing. Without a system that matches printer to computer you could end up spending a lot of time and money and still have prints that shift color. With Imageprint driving my printer I can be confident that what I see on the computer screen is what will print. Of course the quality of the monitor you are using greatly influences image quality.
For further information you can contact Steve Cohen at Silverworks Photo and Digital Services. Phone (310) 392-1972 or silverworksimaging.com.
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- The Special Collections Dept. at UCSB Library is currently showing
"Ninja Press at Twenty," an exhibit of books, broadsides and ephemera
from Ninja Press in Sherman Oaks. A reception and "artist talk" with
Carolee Campbell, designer-printer-binder, is scheduled for tomorrow
(Jan. 19) from 4-6 pm, and her work will be on exhibit through March
26. For more info, call 893-5509; for special collections hours call
893-3062. (To see a few of her books - and a lot of other wonderful
books - check Vamp & Tramp + Califia's website: www.vampandtramp.com)