While I was printing the matte pictures, I edited the glossy versions. It didn’t take much. Mostly I added a little contrast-enhancing S-curve that strengthened the midtone separation at the expense of the shadows and the highlights. When printed on the higher-Dmax glossy paper, the midtones looked a little dark, so, if the highlights would handle it, I increased the setting of the exposure control. If important highlights were already near paper white, I added some midtone gain with a curve instead of messing with exposure. I used a little soft light to pull up any shadows that suffered from the S-curve.
All the while, I was worried that I was making the work too garish. I increased contrast slowly, mindful of that old bit of darkroom psychology that one look at a too-contrasty print can poison your mind and make the right contrast look flat. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried; the test prints looked great. To look their best, they needed more light than the matte prints. Because of the higher Dmax, the glossy prints don’t tolerate low light levels as well as the matte ones. I don’t see anything I can do about it; I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.
It was time to change the ink on the 9800. I found the empty CMY cartridges that came with the printer. I pulled up the instructions. Actually, I didn’t need them, because when you initiate the ink-changing sequence, the printer tells you what to do every step of the way. It went fine until the printer said to install the CMYK cartridges. In a moment of brain fade, I put the Matte Black cartridge back in the printer. It didn’t take me long to realize my mistake, but I couldn’t figure out how to stop the recharging process. So I just stood there fuming for fifteen minutes while I flipped the ink levers up and down as the printer told me to. Then I did it all over again, this time managing to install the Photo Black cartridge.
Then I had to decide on what size to print. I went with the full paper size, 17×25. That size fits the aspect ratio of most of the images better than 17×22, and I can get bigger images, even after I increase the right and left margins from 1.5 to 2 inches to give the image a little more room to breathe. The problem is carrying the prints. 17×22 portfolio boxes are easy to find; I haven’t been able to track down a single one in 17×25. I decided to use the box the paper came in, even though the PhotoLucida people caution on their web site that that looks amateurish. I will be slipping the portfolio cases into a black nylon bag for transport, so I will be spared the shame of walking the streets of Portland with a Harman box under my arm.
As an aside, I should mention that I never considered seriously the idea of matting the prints. The process adds so much weight and size that it’s just not worth it. I’d have to print the images a whole lot smaller to make the mats manageable and I’d much rather have good-sized images than have the added polish of matting. I did make a concession to the fact that I’m showing the work unmatted: I added an extra half inch of margin at the bottom. Normally I center the work to make it easier on the person doing the matting, but these prints are only for the review, and will never be matted, so I figured that I’d make the images look their best when viewed directly on the paper.
With the right ink in the 9800, I started to print. It took longer than for the matte pictures, partly because I had other things to do that dragged me away from the printer, partly because the images were somewhat bigger, and partly because I selected the highest resolution setting, which is not available with matte papers.