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After eight years, Julia and I finally have our book. Mother Daughter Posing As Ourselves is the second in a series of publications from the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press that explore the possibilities of digital printing. The Press is the publishing arm of the Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection, one of the country’s premier libraries on the history and practice of printing. As luck would have it, I submitted our book proposal about the time Press Director, David Pankow, was developing a research project centering on the challenges surrounding the accurate reproduction of fine art, silver halide black and white photographs. For the project he brought together a group of artists, scientists, researchers, and technicians from the Institute’s schools of photography and printing, and a campus research center, the Printing Applications Lab. The research team was presented with a challenging goal: to produce a printed facsimile edition of a group of black-and-white photographs characterized by fine highlights, sensuous mid-tones, and rich shadow areas.

Photography Professor Nitin Sampat oversaw the scanning of the original silver prints using a workflow based on HP Artist, a proprietary software program developed at HP Labs. This process generated digital files that accurately captured the tonal characteristics of the original photographs.

The HP Indigo 5500 Press at the Printing Applications Laboratory was chosen for this project because of its superb image reproduction capabilities and the unique ability to use custom-mixed inks. A set of three custom gray inks and one black ink was created and mixed at the Lab. RIT Research Associate, Franz Sigg created custom

test targets and a mathematical printer model which generated separations from the grayscale images. The printing itself was overseen by Jeremy Vanslette from the PAL who was able to make the press do exactly what we wanted it to do.

In a wonderful coincidence, just as we were about to begin the printing tests, Mohawk Fine Papers released its latest paper for digital printing. Its lush feel and egg shell finish makes it reminiscent of the tactility of a silver print.

For me personally, a great benefit of having this edition printed at RIT was being part of the entire process. Important to the quality of image reproduction were my subjective reactions to the various press proofs during every step of the process. It was an involvement which sometimes resulted in conversations extending beyond fidelity to the changes in perception caused by the difference in the syntax of a silver photograph as opposed to that of an ink/toner on paper image.

Ultimately this group of left and right brainers achieved the goal. Mother Daughter features near-exact replicas of original photographs, perhaps surpassing what we could have expected from a high quality offset lithographic process.

Melbert B. Cary, Jr. Graphic Arts Collection
Printing Applications Lab
Nitin Sampat
Franz Sigg
David Pankow
Marnie Soom, Designer