Carbon Printing

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by sanking, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Just wanted to update you on the status of the B&S carbon tissue. I have been beta testing this tissue for over a year, quite intensely during the past several weeks. I can tell you that Dick Sullivan has invested a lot of time in learning to produce a good product and from my latest testing he looks to be there. I have prepared a review of the B&S tissue, which, barring unexpected circumstances, will appear in a recent number of View Camera.

    I don't know exactly when Dick will begin selling this tissue but I suspect based on the status of the material as of this point that it will be in the first quarter of next year. The tissue itself will be available in several colors, including a color Dick calls Nut Brown that I am especially fond of. For a couple of years I had been trying to make a tissue appropriate for my rock art negatives from Utah and this color, which closely approximates the color of many of the sandstone formations of that area, seems about perfect to me. And I think it would be very nice for other subjects as well.

    Along with the tissue B&S will be selling Melinex, a plastic material with an emulsion surface that takes the carbon image beautifully, and perhaps some gelatin coated papers as well. BTW, carbon prints on Melinex are considered to be the ultimate in stability. As I recall Wilhelm rates the archival quality of some of the Ataraxia carbon prints on Melinex in the hundreds of years.

    All in all the prospect of once again having a high quality carbon tissue available commercially is an exciting prospect and I hope that some of you alternative types will take advantage of the opportunity to give carbon printing a try. The cost does not look to be prohibitive. Dick estimates that the cost will be about 1/3 that of pt/pd (based on use of his kit), but my own prediction is that it will be more like 1/2 or 2/3 of the price. But considering the end product, still not a bad price.


    Sandy
     
  2. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Thanks for the information. Carbon is my favorite process, had to give it up a few years ago, when I moved my darkroom and stability became a problem. Would love to dive back in and develop a consistant system. maybe this will help. Please keep us advised.
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Sounds like this could be a good way to get into this process. Good to know...
     
  4. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    Jorge If you like Plat/plad your going top love carbon/carbro but don't be mislead it may be cheaper but, it's far more tempermental! But theirs nothing like it, when you look at a print from an angle the black and darker values actually are raised from the surface.
     
  5. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Well my first experience with carbon was a disaster. Seems I hydrolised the gelatin (heated it too much) and the stuff was so thin it would run everywhere.

    I have seen Carbon prints and they are beautiful, I guess having a commercial tissue will go a long way to make this porcess more popular.
     
  6. roy

    roy Member

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  7. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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  8. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Boy, what a great link. I had no idea that so-called 'digital carbon' was being marketed so aggressively (and deceptively). Just because something has carbon black in the inks does not mean that it is the same as what is traditionally known as a carbon print. Sadly, I think the onslaught of this sort of marketing will totally devalue the term 'carbon print' until no one knows what it signifies. I think it is very interesting that people will use just about any nomenclature to avoid using the term 'ink jet print', which is really what they all are. Giclee, digital platinum, digital carbon, etc are all somewhat deceptive monikers meant to portray a commonplace, easy-to-mass-produce object in a different, supposedly more flattering, way.

    Let's face it, if these prints were actually harder to produce than a REAL carbon print, the creator would name them something entirely distinct in order to differentiate the print from a 'common' carbon print. As it is, they are misappropriating the cachet and uniqueness associated with a truly craft-and-skill-heavy process in order to sell something that is common as dirt. Unfortunately, the skilled traditional practitioners are vastly outnumbered by unethical hoardes who don't give a rat's ass about honesty in representation, and I fear the battle has already been lost.

    I am not dissing the prints - I actually own a few inkjet prints that I consider fine pieces of work - but I still think there is nothing wrong with calling them what they are: inkjet prints.

    <Rant-mode-off>
     
  9. lee

    lee Member

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    Isn't Clyde Butcher the Florida photographer that nearly lost his shirt because he used RC paper instead of fiber paper? He sold the state of Florida a bunch of print that were super big like 8x10 feet then the paper started to self destruct and he had to replace them at his costs.

    I wonder if those like Clyde even no if there really is an older process called Carbon Printing. I would have never known about it if not for Sandy and those that do that process. A lot of people know color and silver and platinum but some of the more obscure processes might have slipped by a few folks.

    lee\c
     
  10. Poco

    Poco Member

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    OT

    That link of Clyde in front of his computer is kinda funny. If you look carefully, you'll see he's got that pesky whif of a cloud highlighted -- click, phttttt, presto! Gone! Nature, finally as a computer literate god would have intended! ...and another garish, overly dramatic landscape gets added to the pile.
     
  11. rogein

    rogein Member

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    This is great news - especially if B+S are going to sell more than just a 'straight black' tissue. I can't wait to buy some! I'm fortunate to have one of Sandy's wonderful prints hanging on my wall. For those of us who print in pt/pd and yearn for the 'umpf' of 'silver' - carbon will be an interesting alternative.

    Cheers,
    Roger...
     
  12. cjarvis

    cjarvis Member

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    I agree with you, Clay. Being someone who has struggled with REAL carbon printing - I never thought there was anything tougher than albumen - it bugs me to no end that "inkjet" has, through deceptive marketing, become synonymous with "carbon".

    There is an interesting article (Editor's Comments - Evolution of the Artifact) on a related topic in the latest issue of LensWork (No. 49 Oct-Nov 2003) by Brooks Jensen. It's not about calling a spade a spade so much as it is about the quality of printing, but well worth reading nonetheless.
     
  13. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Yes, that is the same Clyde who had to replace all those prints.
     
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  15. lee

    lee Member

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    I emailed Clyde and told them that what they were doing in my opinion was distasteful at the very least. They need to step up to the plate and call it what it really is...an inkjet.


    I don't expect a reply.

    lee\c
     
  16. lee

    lee Member

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    The fact that Clyde sells these prints for $45.00 is an indication of how he values them.

    lee\c
     
  17. lee

    lee Member

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    I will be damned. Clyde's wife (I think) emailed me and here is the original email and their reply.

    "Lee,
    We spoke to Clyde concerning your email.. He explained that most
    black and white digital prints use all five colors in their processing,
    Clyde is using black and gray inks which are carbon based only. He
    feels he is not misrepresenting the images. We are not trying to be
    deceitful; that is why we call them digital carbon prints. We pride in
    ourselves, for being upfront and honest to our customers. Thank you for
    taking the time in emailing us. If you have further questions or
    concerns, please feel free to contact us, 1-888-999-9113. Denise



    -----Original Message-----
    From: Lee Carmichael [mailto:click76112@charter.net]
    Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2003 9:01 AM
    To: info@clydebutcher.com
    Subject: digital carbon prints



    Clyde et al,
    I find this type of marketing to be some of the most decitful. This is
    not
    a carbon print at all but you are selling injet prints. Have the guts
    to
    call it what it is. There are people working in an older process called carbon printing. If I worked in that method I would be highly offended.


    lee carmichael
    click76112@charter.net"

    perhaps those that know a little more about injet could respond to Clyde's contention that "most " are using 5 colors and since Clyde only uses black and gray colors he is correct.

    lee\c
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, why not go out and take some pictures with a Canon 1Ds, since I'm sure it's not too hard to find someone who claims that 11 Mpix is as good as large format, and market them as "Digital Large Format Prints"? Even better, why not use one of the high-end digital backs for medium format and call it "Digital Ultra Large Format photography," since they produce larger files than the 1Ds, which produces larger files than the 10D, which produces larger files than many consumer digital cameras. Would Clyde Butcher find this to be a deceptive practice that devalues his product? I don't see why, as long as it is specified that these are "Digital" Large Format photographs.
     
  19. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    There has been over a 100 years of usage where the term carbon print refers to a print that is created from ink or pigment suspended in a gelatin tissue that has been made light senstive through the application of a dichromate. This tissue is then exposed via contact printing with UV radiation, which hardens the tissue in proportion to the amount of light transmitted through the negative. This tissue is transferred either to a temporary substrate or a final substrate, and the unhardened gelatin is then 'developed away' with hot water. The varying thickness of the remaining hardened tissue creates a photographic image on the substrate.

    If Clyde has figured a way for his inkjet printer to do all this, then by all means, call the results a carbon print. And I sure would like to see that printer!
     
  20. lee

    lee Member

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    David,
    Why not pose this directly to Clyde and his minnions? Here is the email address off the website.

    It is info@clydebutcher.com

    lee\c
     
  21. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Is he marketing this in his web site?..let me go check....as Arnie says..."I'LL be Bauck"



    That is a shame, Butcher was one of the photographers I admired. What is even worse is that some of his informatin is wrong. The "black" pigment is actually less stable than the grays, as the pigments do not give enough density and dye has to be added to the pigment to make it "really" black. at least that was the info I have gathered from piezography and MIS inks, I doubt Epson has come up with a better pigment, since they are actually behind Cone in the research of these inks...I think I will send them an e mail.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    All the better, let's invite him to participate in the discussion here and/or over on the LF Forum.
     
  23. lee

    lee Member

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    Good idea. Wanna do the honors?

    lee\c
     
  24. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Well, here is the e mail I sent:

    "Recently it came to my attention that you were marketing "Carbon" digital prints. I find this description misleading and deceitful for the following reasons:

    The term Carbon print has been used for more than 100 years to denote a print in which pigment is suspended in gelatin and the gelatin is then coated into paper, which then is sensitized to UV light by adding a sensitizer like potassium or ammonium dichromate. These prints can take up to a day to make a single print since they require many processing steps.

    The resulting print not only has an ecxeptional durability but the print itself has some relief depending on the final support paper, something I am sure your ink jet prints do not have.

    If you were making a digital negative which then was printed with the real carbon process, I would accept your description of "Carbon digital print," but presently your prints are nothing more than ink jet prints using carbon based inks, which is an entirely different thing.

    Furthermore, in my research of these inks, be they Ultrachorme, Piezography or MIS it is my beleif that the actual "black" ink is the least stable as it requires dyes to make it "really" black. The grays are more stable as they mostly composed of carbon pigments. So I beleive your description in the web site is also inaccurate. In additon accelerated test are only and indication that the inks could possibly last 100 years, they are not by any means proof that they do so. I beleive you actually were victim of these accelerated test with your RC prints which you had to re make since the claims made of their durability were not real.

    As an alternative printer I am dissapointed to see such a fine photographer as yourself using these misleadign marketing tactics to promote something that in and of itself you should not be ashamed of. I am sure they are fine and beautiful prints, but they are not carbon prints by any means.

    Furthermore, I hope that any of your collectors does not come across a real carbon print, since he/she will notice the difference and will understandably be upset, perhaps demanding a real carbon print or a refund of their money. "

    So why dont you invite him David, I dont want to make a nuisance of myself
     
  25. lee

    lee Member

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    Nice Jorge. I sent a follow up to their response but they have not sent any following emails. If they do, I will certainly post them here. I, too, am disappointed in Clyde's disregard for the truth and fair marketing practices. He seems as clueless now as when he was caught using RC papers.

    lee\c
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Okay, here's my letter. Let's see if he turns up:

    Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 13:41:03 -0500 (EST)
    From: David Goldfarb <dgoldfar@barnard.edu>
    To: info@clydebutcher.com
    Subject: Digital "Carbon Prints"

    Dear Mr. Butcher,

    Two lively discussions are going on about your use of the term "Carbon
    Print" to describe the digital prints you are marketing through your
    website. Most of the participants, I would say, are admirers of your work
    and have no objection per se to the process itself, but find the
    endorsement of terms like this which have traditionally referred to older
    processes (other examples being "Digital Platinum Giclee" and "Selenium
    Ink Prints") by someone of your stature to be disturbing. While it is
    clear from your website that these are not traditional carbon prints, the
    terminology suggests that they are in some way a substitute for a
    traditional process that is much more laborious and costly.

    I would like to invite you to participate in these discussions at the
    following two sites:

    http://www.apug.org/site/main/viewtopic.php?t=2251&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

    and

    http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/thread.php?topic=496940

    Sincerely,

    David Goldfarb