I have made the first hurdle and have been able to print out Mikes Wares 100 step wedge on an Epson 4880 printer with matte black ink. The hurdle besides getting the printer to recognize my computer via the network and the changing of the inks (wow what a process), was to discover deep in the bowels of the printer setup was the slider MAXIMUM OPTICAL BLACK. According to Mike Ware most Siderotype processes prefer to have the ink reduced. [Not his words] Instead of 0 (maximum), the best placements depending upon the medium is between -6 and -10. So, I printed out five negatives on Arista II from Freestyle at densities: 0, -3, -6, -8 and -10.
This Sunday, 11/22/09, I’ll overexpose the -8 to find the time using traditional palladium and Cranes Crest Natural white. This is necessitated so as to find the optimum time to achieve “acceptable” black. Then I reprint -8 at this reduced time to ascertain where the white lands. If it is all white I go towards -10 if it’s too gray, I print towards -6 or lower. Let’s hope it’s that simple! It took Dr. Ware several pages to explain what I just covered, so if you didn’t follow my description you’re probably not alone. The difficult part of the process is that the density of the ink is not linear unlike the silver salts in analog negatives; therefore, there is a need to empirically find Maximum Black and the White end points. From here one works with curves because otherwise the digital negative prints the mid-tones dark.
In another blog, I discuss why I’m looking into working with digital negatives in the first place.