Photographic Print Glossary
• ARCHIVAL DIGITAL PRINT: "Digital printing" refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. Limited edition archival digital fine art prints, formerly referred to as "Giclees" are produced with the continuous ink jet technology of a digital printer. The archival refers to acid free, inks and papers that are ex will last longer than traditional printing methods.
• CHROMOGENIC PRINT: Introduced in 1936, a chromogenic color print is a full color, silver based photograph that can be produced from a color negative, a slide or a digital image. The chromogenic print process was first marketed as reversal-type films (Kodachrome ®, Agfacolor Neu ®), then later as light-sensitive paper in the early 1940s (Kodacolor ®). Also called "dye coupler prints," it is an industrial photographic process in which the dyes are formed by a reaction between chemicals during development. The support is covered with multiple layers of gelatin each containing light-sensitive silver halides combined with one of the three dye couplers (cyan, magenta, and yellow) required for a trichromatic subtractive color system. During development, the couplers react with the color developer to form a different colored dye in each layer. Part of the material that forms colored dyes upon development is included in the emulsion during manufacture. This term represents the majority of the color prints made today. These prints are commonly referred to as a "Type C Print" if made from a negative and a "Type R Print" if made from a transparency.
• DIBOND: Dibond is an aluminum substrate comprised of two painted sheets of aluminum with a polyethylene core. Images can be printed directly onto the dibond or a print can be mounted onto the aluminum.
• GICLEE: is a term coined in 1991 for fine art digital prints made on a special large format inkjet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints created on IRIS printers in a process invented in the late 1980s but has since come to mean any inkjet print. In giclee printing, no screen or other mechanical devices are used and therefore there is no visible dot screen pattern. The image has all the tonalities and hues of the original painting. Giclee (pronounced Gee’clay) is a French term meaning to spray or squirt, which is how an inkjet printer works. However, it is not the same as a standard desktop inkjet printer, and is much larger. The original can be scanned directly on a drum scanner or a high resolution transparency of the image may also be scanned. The process employs six colors--light cyan, cyan, light magenta, magenta, yellow and black (sometimes TWO blacks)--of lightfast (fade resistant), pigmented inks and finer, numerous, replaceable printheads resulting in a wider color gamut, and the ability to use various media to print on. The ink is sprayed onto the page, actually mixing the color on the page to create truer shades and hues .Images can be printed onto a variety of media including paper, canvas, vinyl and transparent acetates.
• LAMBDA CHROMOGENIC PRINT: Lambda printing is quite a unique printing process in the field of photography. Combining the continuous tone of traditional chromogenic prints (also known as “C-Prints”) with the control of today’s digital printing, Lambda prints, or Digital C Types, are often considered to be some of the most beautiful and accurate prints available.
Like a C-Print, the image becomes embedded in the emulsion, meaning that no ink or dot patterns are visible as in standard digital inkjet printing. Although paper choices are more limited with this process, the archival and tonal benefits certainly outweigh the limitations. If kept in a typical home, Lambda prints can last up to 100 years, and up to 200 if kept in a dark environment. The prints are generally high gloss, transparent, or metallic (some matte options are available), allowing for even greater clarity, sharpness, and color saturation than other photographic processes.
Digital C Types are created from digital or “digitized” images (such as film scans) and transferred to conventional photographic media. Because these prints are created from digital files, dust and other problems common to standard enlarger printing become irrelevant, and local adjustments such as retouching or color changes (i.e. changing someone’s skin tone without altering the background) are made possible. The photographs are transferred directly to the paper through three lasers (red, green, and blue) that merge to expose the print in a single pass. Since this method does not require a second-generation negative, the color accuracy, contrast, and clarity will always remain at the highest possible quality as well. Once exposed, the prints are processed in a wet film processor just like a traditional C-Print.
Although Lambda prints can be made smaller, they are generally used for large-scale projects since the printers can handle images up to 50 x 240 inches. Lambda printers are also exceptionally fast because they do not have to lay down ink on paper like most digital printers. The quality of these prints can be compared to that of an inkjet print up to 4000dpi, and they are capable of producing up to 68 billion colors.
• PLATINUM PALLADIUM PRINT: Platinum/palladium prints are known for their beauty, archival stability and unique, one-of-a-kind print statement. Made from the salts of platinum and palladium, these prints are also called “platinotypes” or “platinum” prints. Platinum and palladium are noble metals on the Periodic Table and are resistant to oxidation. The platinum salt emulsion is imbedded into the fiber of the paper during the printing process. As with most historical photographic processes, a platinum print is made by placing the negative and emulsion-coated paper in direct contact. Therefore, the size of the photographic print is equal to the size of the negative.
Platinum prints have a different “look” from silver gelatin or digital prints. All platinum prints have a matte, not glossy surface, because the sensitizer is absorbed into the paper rather than sitting on the surface. A platinum print also has a more gradual tonal change from black to white. To the eye accustomed to the punch of a silver gelatin print, a platinum print will often feel “softer” or lower in contrast. In reality there are actually more steps between pure black and pure white in platinum prints than in a silver gelatin print. This contributes to the deeper, richer feeling you experience when looking at these prints.
My platinum prints are made from hand-mixed and hand-coated emulsions. These sensitizers are mixed just prior to use, coated on the paper with a brush or glass rod. Once dry, a negative is placed in direct contact with the paper, and then exposed to “actinic” or ultraviolet light. Exposure to the light source takes a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the density and contrast of the negative.
The image tone of a platinum/palladium print can vary widely in color. These prints can range from a cool, slightly purple black to split tones of brown and warm black, to a very warm brown. The proportions of platinum to palladium in the emulsion, choice of developers and the temperature of the developer control the final color.
As these emulsions are mixed and coated by hand no two prints are exactly alike. Some practitioners of these historic processes leave brush strokes plainly visible. Occasionally brush strokes can be seen in some of the prints. They should be seen as the marks of the artist.
• GELATIN SILVER PRINT: The gelatin silver process uses gelatin, an animal protein, as the binder and developed silver as the image material. The most common black and white print process, introduced in 1885 and still in use today. A suspension of silver salts in gelatin is coated onto a support such as glass, flexible plastic or film, baryta paper, or resin-coated paper. These light-sensitive materials are stable under normal keeping conditions and are able to be exposed and processed even many years after their manufacture. The gelatin silver print or gelatin developing out paper (DOP) is a monochrome imaging process based on the light sensitivity of silver halides. They have been made for both contact printing and enlarging purposes by modifying the paper’s light sensitivity. A brief exposure to a negative produces a latent image, which is then made visible by a developing agent. The image is then made permanent by treatment in a photographic fixer, which removes the remaining light sensitive silver halides. And finally, a water bath clears the fixer from the print. The final image consists of small particles of silver bound in a layer of gelatin. This gelatin image layer is only one of the four layers found in a typical gelatin silver print, which typically include the overcoat, image layer, baryta, and paper support.