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HP introduces large format photo negative application for fine-art photo quality

Press release from the issuing company

Palo Alto, Calif. – HP today introduced a Large Format Photo Negative application that allows professional photographers using the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer series to produce fine-art quality prints or hardcopy image archives.

HP is showcasing Large Format Photo Negatives and prints produced with the negatives for the first time at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2010 in Arles, France from July 3-13, and at ArtHamptons in Bridgehampton, NY from July 9-11.

This application is generated with a free software package and the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer series, which allow photographers to use a digital file from a film scan or digital capture to produce a photo negative on a transparent substrate. Large-format photo negatives can be used as masters to produce high-quality fine art prints in a wide range of classic, alternative photographic processes.  These include monochrome or color processes, such as cyanotype, photogravure, platinotypes, dye-transfer, gum bichromate and carbro.

"HP's breakthrough innovation gives fine art photography printmakers an easier way to transform their digital files into high-quality, physical originals of their work, addressing one of the key needs we heard from this community," said Santiago Morera, vice president and general manager, Designjet Large-format Printing Solutions, Imaging and Printing Group, HP.  "We're committed to helping professional photographers simplify and accelerate the process for producing, showcasing and archiving their art."

While writing on film from digital data is not new, the Large Format Photo Negative application, developed by HP Color Scientist and photographer Angel Albarran, offers one of the simplest, least expensive and highest-quality options available on the market today. Any professional photographer with an HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer, the correct substrate and the free software package from HP can produce these photo negatives. The software package will be released at Photokina in September.

Photographer Elliott Erwitt uses Large Format Photo Negatives to create new edition of platinum prints
Elliott Erwitt, a Magnum photographer known for his black-and-white candid shots, recently used Large Format Photo Negatives to create limited editions of some of his most famous and iconic photos. With the large-format negatives, he was able to produce 76 x 102-cm (30 x 40-inch) platinum prints of four of his images on cotton paper, including "California Kiss."

"Platinum printing is the Rolls Royce of photographic reproduction and has traditionally been limited to modest dimensions," said Erwitt. "These new large-format platinum prints with their unusual size are a Rolls Royce and Ferrari combined. They are a new and unique way of seeing and experiencing familiar iconic images. The resulting four pilot photographs have a luminosity that is not achievable with any other process old or new."

Erwitt first worked with Gabe Greenberg, famous in the fine art community for high-quality digital prints, to retouch and adjust the images in a digital format prior to printing. Once approved, the digital files were printed on the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer in the form of large-format negatives with green and black Original HP Photo Inks.

"The negatives we're getting from our HP printer are unparalleled by anything we've done before," said Greenberg, who has worked with noted platinum printmaker Arkady Lvov for eight years, experimenting with various inkjet printers to find a streamlined method to create large-format photo negatives suitable for platinum printing. "The platinum prints they produce have smooth gradations and even gray areas. These are the crème-de-la-crème of prints. We're ecstatic about the new process!"

With the printed negative in hand, Lvov coated cotton paper with a mixture of platinum salts and various other components to make the substrate sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light. The coated paper and negative were then sandwiched together in a vacuum frame and exposed to UV light, causing the reduction of the platinum salt back to its metallic state based on the level of opacity from the negative, forming the images. The final prints offer a superior range of gray levels, smooth tonal transitions, excellent contrast and good separation in shadows, highlights and mid-tones compared to other solutions on the market.

Once final, the platinum print was tagged with ARTtrust, a simple self-certification system from HP that allows artists to provide individual identity to any pigment ink print produced on an HP Designjet Z series printer using Original HP Photo Inks and any compatible media, including HP fine art printing materials. ARTtrust provides traceability and control of authenticity, as well as certified information about print longevity, for each pigment print.

Large Format Photo Negatives at Arles and ArtHamptons
Large Format Photo Negatives and platinum prints produced on the HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer and tagged with ARTtrust will be on display for the first time at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2010 and ArtHamptons. HP will also participate in a conference at Les Rencontres d'Arles 2010 titled Fine-Art Photography and Technology: Revolution and Renaissance? at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 8. Attendees can discuss the latest technology advancements for the photography community and meet with photographers, printmakers, art collectors and galleries while viewing the Erwitt prints.