#822. A Pwint is born. And the bleak(?) future of #PrintSwap.

#822. A Pwint is born. And the bleak(?) future of #PrintSwap.

When things take a really long time to happen, either it’s because they are genuinely complex and require a lot of effort over a long period to come to fruition, or a lot of procrastination is involved. In the case of my printing efforts, it’s fair to say the latter explains the long wait for first results much more accurately than any technical difficulty along the way.

 

 

Very often, in life, procrastination is caused by one of two situations:

* Not knowing what the next step is. When someone’s lazy at school or at work, it’s usually because they have no precise clue of what they are supposed to do next. Hence the evasion to something they understand and enjoy better. The big picture is great in the boss’s head but those on the shop floor need precise instructions.

*Knowing the subject at hand is important work. Transformative work. We all resist transformation, even for the better. 99% of people would rather continue a life of misery than face their demons. Mistreated wifes rarely leave their husbands. Mistreated employees rarely leave their abusive bosses. An antilope will often face lions on solid ground rather than jump into the water. The unknown is scary.

 
 

I knew what to do but was subconsciously afraid to get started. The dent in my hobbyist satisfaction created by my lack of printing was obvious and clear to me, but hardly powerful enough to spur me on.

 

For a happy and proficient darkroom printer, the first digital printing experiences with an clog-addict Espon (10 years ago) and a lackluster (in my hands) Canon Pro 100 had put a serious damper on my enthusiasm and brought my print making days to a bitter end.

 

Still, I eventually did my research, opted for the Canon Pro-1000 in spite of its lack of paper roll support or digital transparency compatibility, purely on the basis of its rumoured out-of-the-box printing sparkle. Even so, I waited for the last week of the sales, and the very last hours of the week-end to set it up and click the PRINT button. Aaah, dear lizard brain …

 
 


As if to mock my timidity, the Canon’s first act as supreme ruler of paper-base arts at Casa Jappy, was to embark on a 40 minutes long firmware update. Take that, procrastinator! In the end, though, I hesitantly clicked go from Capture One, having placed an A4 sheet of some decade-old Canon semi-gloss 290g/m2, and waited.

 

Oh my! Out came a monochrome print that made my jaw drop. First time around. Warmer and less contrasty than on screen. But beautiful by itself. I’d set myself a very low bar for the week-end : produce one OK print. And that worked on the very first attempt. By that time, smug elation had shoved fear out of the room, and I didn’t want to stop. Funny how you feel like a hero with more powerful toys on your side, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

 
 

I tried three more, from different cameras, both in monochrome and in colour, with similar results : warmer, lower contrast and slightly denser than on-screen. The less PP the image had received, the closer it looked to the on-screen version. But I had clue why or what to do about it.

 

So, time to stop the childish heroics and give procrastination a second chance to gain a foothold on my future artistic ambitions again, as I embark on the arduous road to getting prints that predictably resemble what my screen is showing. But there’s a renewed spring in my step, knowing that results are already high-five, if not entirely hi-fi.

 

(scrumptious happy camper sounds)

 
The lighting dramatically accentuates the differences between print and screen! The paper base is pure white, not tobacco ๐Ÿ˜‰ But there is a small difference.
 

The joy is not just linked to my new-found ability to plaster my (and my relatives’) walls with ink-drenched awagami paper. I’ve been giving the Printswapping project a lot of though, based on the large amount of feedback received after the first post I published about the idea. But it was kinda hard, cred-wise, to spearhead a galactic printing revival without running a printer myself, right ? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Well, no more. With a solid 12 minutes of printing experience, and 4 A4 prints – on what feels like identity photo paper – under my belt, I now feel completely legitimised. So let’s talk shop. And first of all, I’d like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all those who sent that precious feedback. I learned a lot and it changed my vision significantly.

 

 

Here’s a summary of what you gals & guys shared with me :

(*) Print groups exist all over the place. People meet up, show prints to one another, and share techniques. Nothing can replace seeing the prints first-hand. The feedback is great, but also very limited to what/who is available in your area.

(*) Some don’t feel comfortable sharing their prints, worrying that they are not good enough to swap for someone else’s. These people would like to learn a lot from the project.

(*) Conversely, some fear they might send a labour of love and receive a poorly-executed 6×4 in exchange. Some sort of marketplace approach is needed to ensure a standard for quality and valuation is needed.

(*) Some people want to sell, not swap. Some people want to buy, not swap.

(*) Some would like a sort of library from which to borrow prints for a limited time.

(*) Some would like anonymity, so as to avoid cult-like following of a few famous actors, at the expense of 99% of the pack, as is the case on social media.

(*) Some are interested in printing, but have no clue about what it is they want to do. They’re hoping to find inspiration for their own work, swapping or no swapping.

(*) Some want to learn from scratch.

 

That’s a lot to process, but it’s obvious there’s huge interest in a print-centric community. We all realise that photographs on a screen are just ephemeral configurations of electrons that bring no lasting contentment.

 
This is lovely in warm piezo on Hahnemuhle Baryta. Can my Pro 1000 match it ?
 

I’ll discuss solutions in a future post. And this will evolve step by step, based on constant feedback loops. But here are a few ideas worth sharing now and about which I would love more feedback from you :

(*) I’ll create a separate website, so as not to be limited by the feature set of the ageing theme used for this blog.

(*) One of my main ambitions is to talk about and promote a common language for discussing photographs in general and prints in particular. When a good wine merchant discusses a bottle with an educated customer, the buyer has an accurate taste in mouth long before the cork is popped. Because both have trained on the same scent boxes and used the same reference wines for semantic calibration, there is neither subjectivity nor ambiguity in their description. We need the same accurate reference set to describe prints.

(*) Another direction I have already started work on is print valuation. How can you tell whether a price or swap is fair if you are unable to share a common agreement on what defines the value of a print, right?

(*) Technical training will come from me as I share what I’ve learned, but also from much more experienced printers who have agreed to share tips and tricks. We’ll also curate great external sources of info.

(*) Swapping, sharing, selling and buying will be possible. I make no guarantees for traffic or sales volumes ๐Ÿ˜‰

(*) A centralised library is a definite no go (at least I’m not handling that, anyone else is welcome to try). But prints can be passed on from on person to the next so you don’t have to keep them forever if you don’t want to.

(*) KISS is the name of the game (as with everything I do seriously). The simplest solution (for me and for users) will always be the one that gets the go-ahead.

(*) This will cost money. On top of what DS already costs me to run. I’ll look into how this can be monetized later, if/when there is sufficient momentum. Maybe affiliate links to printing products, small cuts on sales ? No idea, but I feel it’s important to mention the possibility from day one.

(*) Finally, I’ll keep doing this for as long as there’s enthusiasm for the project. I’m not doing it alone. Life. Too. Short. I’m looking forward to (1) feedback (2) your experiences (3) suggestions (4) spontaneous help from one user to the other and much more. Scared, yet? ๐Ÿ˜€

 
 

As a consequence of all this, a change of name is also in order. So Printswap is dead, long live Pwintshop. No, that’s not a typo, but a fun-serious combo. Just trying to be pwitty. Let me explain :

  • Shop. As in shop floor. People actually building stuff, as opposed to people (over)thinking stuff (read: the tight, non-porous circle that calls itself “The art world”). That’s the serious and important part.
  • Pwint. Because, in 2019, any domain containing the word Print is either used by a company or parked by a parasite.
  • Pwint. Because it sounds childish, fun and memorable.
  • Pwint. Because we live online. www-style.

Thoughts? Feedback up to now ? ๐Ÿ˜‰

 
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22 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jens February 20, 2019

    Glad to read that you finally took the plunge, Pascal! Remember: we exchanged some ideas about this topic some time back.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 20, 2019

      Thanks Jens. Yes, I remember our conversation. You have a head start and I hope you are still enjoying the Pro 1000 as much and are willing to share your experience at some point ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers

  2. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo February 20, 2019

    Pwint, mmm, nice!
    ( Any risk of suggestions that we drink?
    As in pint.)

    Finance:
    How about a swap fee, could be in steps depending on size!
    And a sale fee, say 50% larger than the swap fee or as a percentage of price?
    ( Will only work once usage grows – so such fees shouldn’t feel limiting.)

    Comparing prints – for swap:
    Is there any way except only by size & b/w vs. colour that won’t lead to occasional hard discussions?

    Comparing prints – for sale:
    I guess the only simple way is to let sellers set their price – if enough sales take place we could see a shift towards a healthy balance.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 20, 2019

      I’m Fwench, of course je dwink ๐Ÿ˜€

      There’s no way to make print valuation a science, and what would be the fun in that. But there are ways of explaining why a 5″ platinum contact print may sell for 10 times the price of a 20″ inkjet. Besides, I think there’s a lot to learn in the process, which is always a bonus for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Avatar
        Pascal Ravach February 25, 2019

        Hi Pascal,

        – Very tempting proposal… when I return to Canada, spend again a fortune to buy new cartridges for my Epson 7900, fight – again – against the #$%* clogging behavior, I’ll try to participate ๐Ÿ™‚
        I say “try” because, opposite to you, I have to fight hard and long to get “decent” prints… maybe not my best talent ๐Ÿ™‚
        – About the prints circulation, I feel you were thinking “Europa”, no? Shipping a tube with a print rolled in it is quite costly from Europe to Canada! This could make the “swap for free” approach not so free anymore…
        – Oh, by the way… a recent study with hundreds of professional participants showed that wine tasters have a bias linked to their location… ahem, another layer of complexity…

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy February 25, 2019

          No, unfortuntely, nothing can be strictly free. But the print itself will be, not shipping. It’s start. And those who’d prefer can exchange files and printing instructions rather than paper. We’ll make it work ๐Ÿ™‚ Neutrality is a dream ๐Ÿ˜€ We”re all biased. But we can still try to share common descriptions to give one another a good understanding of what a print looks like before seeing it in the flesh. I hope …

  3. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron February 20, 2019

    Happy to share info and ideas – way too reclusive to go the extra mile and start sharing prints – too much trauma in the early part of my life, I’m afraid – and as the psychiatrists will tell you, it’s impossible to remove the trauma, later. I will however share some photos from half a century ago, when I get my hands on a suitable scanner – Epson failed me on that, they sold me a scanner that cost way over a thousand bucks and then killed it, by failing to keep their software up to date with Apple’s operating system, and I keep forgetting to look for another one.

    Pascal I’m not sure how the logistics of this will work – are we all headed for your place for an annual show & tell? Just sharing JPG’s by email won’t do the trick – there’s a wealth of difference between what that looks like and what a print will look like.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 20, 2019

      Looking forward to any feedback or prints or photographs. Don’t let childhood get in the way too much, though I understand what you are saying (and sorry to hear it).

      No need for an in-person show and tell, although that would be a lot of fun. But if I can sell you wine remotely, I can sell you a print. It’s not been done before, which is precisely what makes it interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar
      Pascal Ravach February 25, 2019

      Hi, Jean-Pierre,

      I had the same issue with my Epson scanner… don’t despair: no need to buy a new one, there is an affordable software, VueScan, working perfectly with old scanners and the latest Mac OS: https://www.hamrick.com … I use it since ages, it is a great one ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Avatar
    JohnW February 20, 2019

    Houston; The Eagle Has Landed! Fanfares, dancing girls and Dom Perignon all around!

    The Canon plug and play really does work … once it blows its nose and wipes its … I had the same experience with my printer. Sat in the box for months while I bit my nails and bleated “What Have I Done???” before hitching up courage and unpacking the monster. Plugged it into my Mac. inserted paper and hit print. Mother Mary!!! If only life was this simple. Oddly, it printed neutral for eons; then suddenly started printing slightly warm (???). Had I messed up an adjustment??? Don’t argue with it Wilson; I LIKE IT!!! No, it’s not the same as piezo, but it still makes really nice prints with a minimum of fuss and bother and the Canon printers are much easier to live with.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 21, 2019

      Thanks John ๐Ÿ˜‰ We can always use piezo for some special pictures and be happy with our Canons for the 99% other ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Avatar
      Kristian Wannebo February 26, 2019

      Hi John,
      You write:
      “.. and the Canon printers are much easier to live with.”

      Please, in what way easier?

      ( I’ve considered getting a printer again, but the risk of returning from absence to a clogged printer head puts me off. In summer the weather can be really dry here.)

  5. Avatar
    philbewphoto February 21, 2019

    PrintSwap is dead, long live PwintSrap!!! Oh no, it is Pwintshop!! Oh, well….
    And because evewyone is so enthwalled with pwinting, which I totally get, I’ll just mention that the pics in this post desewve some little mention as well… ’cause I’ll always pwefew a poow pwint of a gweat image to a gweat pwint of a poow image.
    So I guess I have to weanimate my Epson W 1900 and go pwint some bikes…. ’cause some of the pics you people shawed with Pascal awe so gweat that I’ll be wanting (no, not wanting as in unhappy gwumbling, wanting as in I need it now, please, please, pwetty please) to swap. Bwoken bikes, anyone?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 21, 2019

      Much appweciated. I am now a pwint wookie !!!! I can gwunt as leawn. Wwooeeeearrrr

  6. Avatar
    Dallas Thomas February 21, 2019

    Pascal great article, when I settled in the one spot for a while I want to get back to printing some of my work. My Epsom 1430 will have major clogged jets on my return so new printer will be required. I have a shot I would like to share with you as you have the printer would it be ok just to send you the file, let me know. Dallas

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 21, 2019

      Thanks Dallas. Yes, please go ahead, send me the file and I will give you the print when we meet in April (I’m coming to Paris) or June ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Avatar
    Johannes Hรผttner February 26, 2019

    Still looking forward to the first implementation of printswap. Iยดm not really concerned about the value of the print(s). For me its more about my curiosity what other people are up to and sharing my photos or rather getting them critiqued by other enthusiasts.

    Is anyone printing with canon using a RIP software or do you just print from application/with the Print Studio Pro plugin?

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy February 26, 2019

      Thanks Johannes. I’m using C1 and LR to print, mainly. But will soon be looking into Qimage, which is supposed to be very good.

      • Avatar
        Johannes Hรผttner February 26, 2019

        Iยดve experimented with PrintFab in the last few months and it offers advanced controls as well as really good output (unfortunately not from C1). The drawback is that most icc profiles that are supplied by the paper manufacturers only work with the default drivers and profiling every paper type myself (and I enjoy experimenting) is a bit of a hassle. Then again the colour output is supreme…

        I was thinking about trying Mirage but my Printer is not supported.

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy February 26, 2019

          The photo software world is such an unfathomable mosaic, isn’t it? … I’ll add PrintFab to the list of contenders ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you.

  8. Avatar
    Kristian Wannebo February 26, 2019

    Hi John,
    You write:
    “.. and the Canon printers are much easier to live with.”

    Please, in what way easier?

    ( I’ve considered getting a printer again, but the risk of returning from absence to a clogged printer head puts me off. In summer the weather can be really dry here.)

    • Avatar
      John W March 02, 2019

      Kristian – The Canon printers are pretty much plug and play and it really does work. If the head on your Epson goes south the printer is high-tech junk; the head can not be replaced. You can replace the head on a Canon printer; it’s not cheap, but way less than buying a new printer.. If you know the printer is going to be down for an extended period of time, do a head clean and remove and cap the cartridges. If you have very dry conditions, talk to a local print tech to get some help on what to do with extended storage. The major drawback I’ve found with the Canon printers is the cartridge capacity – small (15ml) in comparison to the Epson. But, there are excellent after market inks available that reduce the ink cost by 66-75%. Recharging the cartridges is a bit finniky the first few times you do it but you get used to it pretty quickly.

      Hope that helps.

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