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HP technology gives artist Elliott Erwitt a new way to print classic photographs

 
 

“This solution from HP
is a good advance and will
definitely get the attention
of photographers.”

— Elliott Erwitt
Magnum photographer

Photographer Elliott Erwitt has seen his craft change dramatically since he began his career in the 1940s. A member of the Magnum Photos cooperative and the HP Experts & Mentors network, Erwitt is a legend in his field. He’s known for his photos of icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy and unexpected, often absurd, moments in everyday life.

Quick Facts

  • Magnum photographer Elliott Erwitt uses the new Large Format Photo Negative application from HP to digitally create large-format negatives.
  • The new application gives photographers the ability to produce large-format platinum prints while maintaining control over tone and contrast.
  • In July 2010, the platinum prints Erwitt created with the application were displayed at the ArtHamptons International Fine Art Fair in New York and Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France.


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He’s also known as a photographic purist who isn’t fond of digital image manipulation. But, like any photographer, he does use technology to adjust qualities such as tone and contrast. Lately, he’s become a fan of the new Large Format Photo Negative application from HP, which allows him to digitally create large-format negatives for use in traditional, manual printing processes such as platinum printing.

“This application from HP is a good advance and will definitely get the attention of photographers,” he says.

The best of both worlds

Over the past decade, specialty printmakers have struggled to produce large-format negatives for platinum prints while maintaining control over tone and contrast. The new Large Format Photo Negative application gives them that control, resulting in a superior range of gray levels, smooth tonal transitions, excellent contrast, and well-defined detail in shadows, highlights and mid-tones.

Digital printing expert Gabe Greenberg and photographer and printmaker Arkady Lvov introduced Erwitt to the new solution from HP. For nearly a decade, they had been searching for an easy way to print large-format negatives. They found what they were looking for in the Large Format Photo Negative application, together with their HP Designjet Z3200ps Photo Printer. Greenberg explains:

Elliott Erwitt and Gabe Greenberg

“The negatives we’re
getting from our HP printer
are unparalleled by anything
we’ve done before.”



The Large Format Photo Negative application allows artists to create a digital negative the same size as the final print and then return to analog processes for coating, exposing, developing and clearing the image. This way, they can combine the efficiency and precision of digital technology with the craftsmanship of manual printmaking.

“The platinum prints the negatives produce have smooth gradations and even gray areas. These are the crème de la crème of prints,” Greenberg adds.

A new twist on old techniques

Erwitt recently used negatives produced with the Large Format Photo Negative application to create platinum prints of four of his most iconic images, including a photo of racially segregated water fountains in North Carolina and one of Marilyn Monroe. He says:

“When you put platinum prints side by side
with silver prints, you see the difference. The platinum
is more lush. The tonality is creamier.”


In the past, Lvov and Greenberg had to make significant adjustments to digital files to get the correct density of ink on the negatives. But fortunately, the combination of green and black Original HP Photo Ink is ideally suited to the process, eliminating the need for tonal adjustments.

“The results are superb,” says Lvov. “Now, I’m saving time and every platinum print is good, because I have reliable negatives.”

A positive reception

In July 2010, the platinum prints Erwitt created with the application were displayed at both the ArtHamptons International Fine Art Fair in New York and Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France. He anticipates enthusiasm from other photographers once they have been introduced to the new technology:

“Collectors will be particularly interested,
because a platinum print is something rare and valuable,
something quite special.”


The new application is designed for use with HP Designjet Z3200 series photo printers and consists of a package of paper presets. Photographers can download it here.