OCA - Printing Experimentation

One of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout this course (as I begin to look at the professional presentational aspects of photography more seriously) has been accuracy in printing colours and tones. It has been an absolute minefield, although I have taken steps to try and get the best results that I can with the equipment that I have.

My tutor gave me some excellent feedback on my last assignment, to point me in the right direction (which I have taken ‘on board’), but I decided to take it a step further, in order to ensure my prints were of a quality and standard that I would be happy with for my final exhibition (and final assignment submission).

I use an iMac (or MacBook) computer, attached to a HP B9180 Pro printer for all my prints. I have recently calibrated the monitor using a Spyder 3 Pro. The paper that I normally use is ‘Lyson Archival Quality Pro Photo Gloss’ (265 gsm), which was chosen some time ago after some experimentation using a variety of different papers from different manufacturers (Canon, Kodak and some lesser known makes). This has always given me good results, with the exception (as has been pointed out by my tutor) that there is a slight lack of ‘deep’ black (although this has often been overcome by tweaking the ‘blacks’ slider in my Camera Raw software).

As I am using a HP printer, I thought it might be beneficial to use HP paper, especially with the inbuilt printer/paper profiles available with the B9180 Pro. I therefore took a single photograph and printed it using the following papers (which I obtained in small index sheets from the Photo Plus Show at the NEC last year) (some of which were specialist papers, for the sake of experimentation):

HP Professional Semi-Gloss Contract Proofing Paper (235 gsm)

HP Hahmemuhle Watercolour Paper (210 gsm)

HP Aquarella Art Paper (240 gsm)

HP Artist Matte Canvas (380 gsm)

HP Premium Semi-Gloss Proofing Paper (240 gsm)

HP Everyday Pigment Ink Gloss Photo Paper (235 gsm)

HP Professional High-Gloss Contract Proofing Paper (200 gsm)

HP Hahnemuhle Smooth Fine Art Paper (265 gsm)

HP Professional Matte Canvas (430 gsm)

HP Universal Instant-Dry Gloss Photo Paper (190 gsm)

HP Advanced Glossy Photo Paper (250 gsm)

HP Premium Plus Gloss Photo Paper (286 gsm)

HP RC Matte Photo Paper (200 gsm)

HP Professional Satin Photo Paper (300 gsm)

HP Premium Instant-Dry Gloss Photo Paper (260 gsm)

HP Premium Matte Photo Paper (210 gsm)

HP Premium Vivid Colour Backlit Film (285 gsm)

I also experimented with another manufacturer’s paper, printing on the same paper but using two different printer profiles:

Ilford Premium Satin Inkjet Photo Paper (250 gsm) – printed using (1) HP Premium Satin Profile, and (2) using Other Inkjet Paper Profile.

What struck me was the incredible variation in both print quality and tonal range. I was very disappointed with all the Matte papers, the colours and tones within which I felt were very subdued. The speciality papers I also found very disappointing, although the HP Artist Matte Canvas gave quite an interesting finish (although unsuitable for the intentions of this project). Despite the wide variation in brightness and contrast, I felt that the best results came from the Satin and Gloss papers, with the Ilford Premium Satin (printed using the Satin profile) giving me the most satisfactory results. 

OCA - Assignment Four Feedback

I received my feedback for Assignment 4 a few days back, and am (once again) really pleased with the feedback. It’s extremely useful getting constructive criticism in order to propel me into new ways of thinking (or simply to encourage me to pursue avenues that I have only ‘dipped my toe’ into). I have been working hard to try and ‘define’ what my project is about, and through experimentation and tutorial guidance, I have honed it into something that I now feel passionate about.

Despite my deep interest in photojournalism, I have become more and more absorbed in the ‘fine art’ side of photography (not least of which because of the theoretical studies that I have done on the course), and this has really focused my final project. What started out as a very generic idea – ‘Workers’ – which was to be done in a photojournalistic style, has been modified and changed into an artistic ‘idea’ of marrying poetry (in a written sense, through the means of the haiku) with a ‘syllabic’ photographic interpretation of the poem. Through this method, I am hoping to portray the ambiguous nature of warfare, with its multitude of meanings and feelings for those involved (both directly and indirectly) by photographing those whose work will (and has) brought them into contact with it. The uniform they wear (camouflage material, known as DPM: Disrupted Pattern Material) is symbolic of warfare, but this in itself is ambiguous; the very nature of camouflage is to make it appear as something different. I have tried to display both the ‘blending’ (and almost ‘dreamlike’) nature of camouflage, but also the strangeness that camouflage can bring to a scene, when worn within a manufactured environment.

My photographs are therefore meant to provoke discussion, and encourage interpretation of meaning within the viewer, whatever that may be. My tutor has (throughout the course) encouraged me to let my images tell their own story, rather than me forcing the point to the viewer, and I hope I have managed to achieve this in my final selection of work. All images are captured moments, but I have included both sharp, intimate detail, interspersed with ghostlike patterns strewn across the frame by the use of long exposures and movement.

The ‘Haiku’ is a poetic form (originated in Japan) that has 17 syllables (5, 7, 5 over 3 lines). The images for my final ‘exhibition’ were therefore chosen to represent a single syllable (the metric as opposed to the actual word) within the poem (and would therefore be hung with 5 images in the top row, 7 in the middle, and 5 images on the bottom row). The poem is written below:

                                    In our dreams we wade

                                    Through a sea of camouflage

                                    Slipping and sliding