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About Calibration for Alternative Photographic Processes
This series is split into four guides. In order, they are: Getting the Right Density, Linearization, Tonal Separations, and Printing in Color. Below is a quick overview of what each of these guides will cover.
Guide 1: Getting The Right Densities
You have to decide the maximum density of the colors you are going to use. Which of the three colors below is ideal as the 100% cyan and why? This guide will teach you how to make that decision in color and b&w.
You will learn how to calculate the exposure times needed to achieve the ink densities you have chosen. This will be done by making an exposure step wedge, and comparing the printed values to the exposure. Calculating exposure times
for multiple tonal separations, multiple layers, black and white, and color will be covered.
When making density choices, and interpolating color data from the step wedge, it’s helpful to understand: the Lab color space, what tools to use to read color, and the mathematics of color difference. If you are afraid of math, don’t worry. An excel
document comes with this guide that will do those calculations automatically.
Guide 2: Linearization
What is Linearization?
The goal of linearizing a print is to equally space tone throughout the tonal scale. You don’t want the tonal scale to be too dark, too light, or have banding, as shown in the first three rows in the image below.
What Happens if you do not Linearize a Print?
If no curve is applied to a photograph before creating the negative, then the print might be too dark, as shown in the image below. To linearize a print you will need to create a linearization curve in Photoshop.
Guide 3: Tonal Separations
What are Tonal Separations?
The idea of tonal separations is to use different colored inks for various tonal ranges in a print. For example, using a light gray ink to print the light tones in a print, or a dark ink for the shadows. Below is an example of an image split into
various separations. The separations are labeled ink, but that could represent any material used to create tone in a photograph, such as silver, platinum, or a pigment. The tones in the final combined images should all be the same
Guide 4: Printing in Color
Don’t be afraid to print in color; it’s not much more difficult than making a black and white print with tonal separations. The process of calibrating a color print is almost the same as a black and white print. All one needs to do is repeat the
process from the first three guides, for each color used, then put everything together and make an ICC profile. You can then use the profile to convert from RGB to CMYK, and make a print.
The last guide is meant as a supplement to two color management books and a color theory publication. It’s not meant as a general color management guide, but rather, how to apply the information from those resources to alternative photographic processes along with theory I wish I had known when starting to print in color. The guide will cover, common mistakes when transitioning into color printing, alternative color management strategies, how layers should be ordered, consistency, making and using CMYK, Multichannel, and RGB profiles, making a grayscale for an RGB workflow, and viewing prints and matching to the
- Download a preview the first pages here and read more about the book.
- This series is split into four guides. In order, they are: Getting the Right Density, Linearization, Tonal Separations, and Printing in Color.
- Access by a download link.
- Total length of the series is 291 pages.
Apart from the four guides, there are several videos that cover the digital parts of the process. The videos are titled, Calculating Exposure Times, Linearization, Making a Proofing Station, Split Tones, Making an ICC Profile, and Preparing an Image to Print. The information from these videos is also written out as step by step instructions throughout the series.
Calibrating a print, especially in color, requires a number of calculations. There are three Excel documents that come with this series, to automate that process. All you need to do is copy and paste values and Excel will do the rest. The documents are: Exposure Times, SCTV Linearization, and Solver.
This series comes with a number of documents: test charts, profiles in CMYK, CMYK+1 and CMYK+3, a registration mark, many separation curves, and sample data.
About Calvin Grier
Calvin Grier has taught carbon transfer printing to over 80 artists from 32 different countries in his studio in Valencia, Spain. Back in 2015, he spent two years dedicating 12 hours a day to learning the process, working through many obstacles, including figuring out how to accurately calibrate a print. In 2017 he opened The Wet Print atelier, and since then has worked with many photographers from enthusiasts to Oscar-winning DPs.