Photographer and writer Neill Watson recently began printing his own work for the first time on Hahnemühle paper. He was pleasantly surprised by the results he achieved and the simplicity of the process. Here, he kindly shares the details of his experience with us…..
“It surprised many people recently to find that I’m actually quite new to printing my own work. As a commercial and editorial photographer, the vast majority of my images are delivered not in a heavy duty card tube, but via FTP, DropBox or a DVD. Very often, the first time I see my images ‘in action’ are in automotive publications, on trade stand exhibitions or on corporate websites. So when The Signature Store contacted me with the idea of a limited edition print, signed by Sir Stirling Moss, I knew that simply hitting ‘Control+P’ wasn’t going to cut it.
Previous attempts at using outside print fulfilment companies had met with mixed results, some good, some distinctly average. For this particular task, I wanted to be sure of a high quality product, with a consistent output and a bespoke, quality feel to it. The only way I could be sure was to print in-house. Initially, the task sounded daunting. While I’m familiar with colour management and have a profiled screen to reproduce colours accurately for press publication, previous attempts using my Canon IP9000 MkII had delivered mixed results. Discussions with colleagues consistently mentioned Hahnemühle so a chat over the phone resulted in a small pack of test papers, together with some very concise and easy to follow directions on how best to profile the printer for the different papers. This was the part I really didn’t look forward to, with visions of me standing knee deep in empty printer cartridge cases and a mountain of discarded test prints exhibiting undesirable colour casts.
I need not have worried. Hahnemühle have done all the heavy lifting already, with a huge range of printer profiles available to download for Apple and Windows machines directly. Simply select your printer make and model, download and save the profiles for each paper type, then follow the instructions on installing them on your machine. Opening the print dialog box in Photoshop, Lightroom or your editing application of choice gives you a drop down box showing the installed profiles. Each profile has a specific printer and paper type objective and once you understand the file naming convention, selecting the correct profile is a simple mouse click. My first test print was a revelation for me. For the first time, what I was viewing on screen was actually faithfully and accurately reproduced on paper. There were no test prints, no wasted ink, it simply works right away.
This probably sounds like a Hahnemühle advertisement, but it really is that simple. By removing the variables of third party profiling applications and creating the printer profiles themselves, Hahnemühle achieve a consistent output no longer requiring me to sit for hours trying to interpret printer dialog boxes, cross referenced with paper handling notes from a rival manufacturer. For the Sir Stirling Moss print run, we decided upon Hahnemühle 285gsm Fine Art Pearl paper, with the characteristic of a slight shine, brilliant whites and a heavyweight feel. The whole print run was created over a three day period, taking my time and running batches of five prints at a time in the background while working on other computing tasks.
If you’re looking nervously at the prospect of printing your own work, then I’d say don’t worry. Use the profiles provided, be sure that your display is accurate and enjoy a consistent result. My own monitor is profiled using the built in Apple Calibration software that can be found by going System Preferences > Displays > Color. Take your time and take care following the instructions and your display will be profiled to accurately reflect your desired output.
Between The Signature Store, Sir Stirling and myself, we’ve been very pleased indeed with the print quality and in response to the positive comments, I’ll be putting together some more print runs of some of the iconic automotive subjects I’ve photographed over the years. And I’m quite sure that come springtime, if we can just locate that lovely blonde once more, Sir Stirling would be game for a re-shoot in the sunshine.”
Learn more about Neill at www.neillwatson.com