I love the smell of fixer in the morning …

yes because it smells like ammonium thiosulfate which is a bit like victory but mostly because it doesn't have to do with all the issues of color balance. Gad but I hated making color prints. I used to do it and frankly only moderately well. Not like my B&W printing prowess as I must say I can make a great looking print in that realm. With a B&W print it's all about your tones and there are loads of options in that negative for your interpretation. Ansel Adams said that "The negative is the score but the print is the performance". You can give the same B&W negative to any two printers and get different end results. It's pretty neat.

But then there is color printing and where B&W guys happily spend all their time being creative about how they are going to burn, dodge, tone and bleach their print to make it sing with their voice the guy over in the color darkroom is popping aspirin like it's coming out of a Pez dispenser. "AaaaGH! It's still blue!" he yells after his 27th test print where the subject has a distinct skin tone that is decidedly purple. Forget making the print "sing" with his creative vision he has to make the thing not look horrible first. Is it the color pack on his light source? Has the developer gone funky? Is the blix doing something wrong? I bet the temperature isn't stable! No that's not it. Is the paper bad? It's still blue!

So I learned a long time ago to leave those headaches to other people. It's lovely to just go to your pro lab and drop off your order and come back in a few days to lovely looking color prints. They spend all day keeping their system in perfect order with gear that we mortals could never afford to prevent them from dealing with all the crap-ola that we have to just to get a decent looking color print. Now the B&W stuff would always be my baby because I put the time, effort and vision into the print that all but the most expensive custom B&W print specialist would bother to do. For the last 15 years that's how it's been.

Then I decided to mess up a good thing. I was having good C-41 prints made for my folio and they looked good and I got them for a price that I was comfy with to boot. But my new folio books are a tidy 8.5×11" and that's an oddball size for a C print. I was making oversized prints and then cutting them down but that seemed like a kludge. So I did the unthinkable: I decided to make my own color prints.

Hold on. That doesn't mean going into the dreaded color darkroom – thankfully. Since all my color work is digital this means ink jet prints. I had tried my hand at doing ink jets a number of years ago when the "pro desktop ink jet revolution" happened and I was at the time disgusted. The printers were to me horrible, the paper was worse and they were really expensive to make. Well after a lot of research and talk to guys who know a lot more than I it seemed possible.

Thus over the last few days I've been making nice with my printer and while we are not totally friends right now we are coming to some mutual understandings. Over the last few days I have been making a bunch of test prints to dial in my settings and ICC profile. This process has been similar to the old days with the exception that I'm not spending long amounts of time in the dark waiting to see if the print is total whack and I have far more control than I ever did even with my pretty tricked out darkroom of yesteryear. Boy you don't get to use that word much anymore huh?

So I've pretty much tamed the magenta skin tone issue which is important since nearly every photo I will show to a client has a person in it. If they look extras from the movie Attack of the Strawberry People then it's not likely that I'll get the job. 



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