The Pile

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On top of my framing desk sits what I affectionately call "The Pile." It is a stack of probably 300 or more images that I have printed and thrown on the pile, most of which will never be seen by anyone. But it’s my pile, and I love it.




I don’t believe that any image I shoot is complete unless I print it. There is just something about holding that print in my hand—whether it came from a professional lab or my own printer—that just makes it whole; makes the process complete.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate technology, I’m certainly not a Luddite. I’ve got all kinds of screens, from little ones that fit in my pocket, to various medium-sized viewing devices around the house, to huge ones 50 inches across. And yes, my images look nice, they are full of life and color (or black & white, as may be), but something is just missing.

No matter how I study an image on screen—even at 100%—I always see things in a print that I miss on screen. I get a better idea of the overall tone and brightness, but there is something even beyond that. It’s…the feel. Think of it this way: You can have a thousand dollars in the bank, but doesn’t it feel better to have 10 crisp $100 bills in your pocket? It’s the same amount of money, but one just feels so much darn better.

I get some fantastic prints from some of the greatest professional labs in the country, and those are mostly what I sell, but what I really love more is printing my own pieces. I like the process. I LOVE the papers.

I am always experimenting with different papers, and I like them all—for different reasons. Whether it is the lab look of Canon Pro Platinum, or if I want something that has more of a textural feel, I will try other things. For some of my less-contrasty monotone images I may try a Photo Rag paper like Moab Entrada Rag Bright, and I love the feel of it—smooth, yet a tactile quality to it. If I am printing one of my HDR images, I can’t wait to print them on a coated paper like Hahnemühle FineArt Baryta, I get dizzy just thinking about it.

I may even experiment with other types of surfaces, like canvas. For that, I really enjoy using Hahnemuhle Monet Fine Art Canvas

If you don’t know what you may like, there are some good sample packs, like the Hahnemuhle Matte Sample Pack, so you can try a couple of sheets to see what works best for your images.

So I encourage you to start your own “Pile”. Touch your art. You will not regret it!

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Ansel Adams said the negative is like a musical score and the print like that score's performance. I suppose an equally valid analogy would be a recipe and the meal cooked from it. Either way, if you accept one or both of these, printing's the culmination of the process and not really an optional denouemet to the in-camera creation of the image.