Understanding my printing process for the limited edition (16x20in and larger) prints.
In the old days (not that long ago) photographers clicked the camera's shutter and an image was "burned" onto the film. After development a negative was created, See Fig a below. That negative was then manipulated in the darkroom (making some areas of the image lighter, some darker, etc...) and printed on light-sensitive photographic paper to create a fine-art photographic print (Fig b) that hopefully expressed the vision and emotion of what the photographer was feeling about the scene at the time he made the photograph. The great photographer Ansel Adams profoundly used a musical analogy and equated the photographic negative to the “score” and the final print the “performance”.
Today in these digital times a photographer clicks the shutter and instead of a negative, a “raw” file is created. See Fig c below. (It’s essentially a negative but in digital format.) The photographer still has to manipulate the raw file similarly to manipulating a negative in order to create a print only now he accomplishes that manipulation on a computer rather than in a darkroom. Once he has manipulated the image to his liking a digital “master file” is created. This master file contains all of the lightening and darkening, dust removing, and other modifications to the image he made in order to best express his vision for that photograph. Then the master file is used to make the final print. Again, very similar to what a photographer would do in a darkroom. The master file looks similar to a final print. See Fig d. (In film terms the master file is the actual negative used to make the print).
Using that same digital master file a photographer can now make an unlimited amount of identical prints.
My process is different because I believe that a limited edition should be special and unique. After I print one print with the master file and it is sold, I then throw out that master file and start over with the original “raw” file (Fig c) to create a new master file (a new “performance” if you will, using Adams’ analogy mentioned earlier.)
Technically no two of these photographic prints in my limited editions are exactly identical. Just like no two prints (from a film "negative") that photographers create in a darkroom are exactly identical. And again to use Ansel Adams analogy to music, no two musical performances are exactly identical.
So when you purchase a fine art limited edition print (16x20in and larger) from me you are getting a unique print to enjoy and you will know that your print is "hand-made" and not simply reproduced from a master file that all the other prints are reproduced from.
Fig a above is what a typical black and white film negative looks like. Fig b on the right is what a print from that same negative looks like after the negative has been manipulated in the darkroom using an enlarger, burning and dodging, and finally development in various chemicals.
The image above on the left is what a RAW image from a digital camera looks like. As you can see it's flat and pretty dull looking. Just like a film negative talked about earlier this RAW image contains all the information needed in order to make a fine-art print shown at right. The fine-art print can be color or black and white. I don't use a darkroom any more. I use Lightroom and Photoshop on my computer. There is a lot more control over how a final print will look when editing on a computer over a darkroom.