This has been an interesting few week and not because of the Wuhan virus hysteria. No, my challenges have come from the lightroom side of my photography. It initially started out with placing orders for ink for my Epson 1400 printer. I have dedicated the printer for strictly black and white printing. Each one of the print cartridges has a color of black assigned to it. I have been getting some wonderful images and have been improving the look of the final print with the use of the appropriate paper. And increasing the archival properties as well.

In any case, the order for new ink and new cartridges went out at the beginning of March, before the Wuhan madness had taken complete control of common sense. After nearly two months of emailing and calling I finally had to appeal to PayPal to at least get a refund since I never did receive my orders. And now the problem I faced.

I had been using the ink set up and supplier who sold photographer Paul Roark’s formulas. He has done extensive testing and printing with multiple black ink cartridges. If you are interested in reading about his processes, he has an extensive online library of how he prints with watercolor paper and dedicated black and white printers (here).

So, I wrote Paul to find out who he used as a supplier for his inks. And he promptly responded with his supplier and advised I take a look at one of his online articles for more information. Once I did some more in-depth reading, I was able to find more info in the footnotes and was off and running with a new supplier for my inkjet printing.

But things are not always so easily remedied. I had to order new cartridges as my old ones were not resetting. Once I received the new cartridges, I filled them with the ink I still had in supply and lo and behold, my printer promptly died! So, I fall back onto my color Epson printer. It was a used purchase and I had not used it for a month or so. Not a good thing in the realm of inkjet printing as they really should be used once a month if not consistently printing daily. And since it was a color only printer it was not getting much use by a black and white photographer. Doh! Needless to say, I’m sure you know the outcome. The color printer was not printing either.

So, before I had to break down and purchase a new printer, I tried to fix the color one to print only black and white. During the repairs I learned a great deal about how printers work and the print heads specifically as far as cleaning and set up. Alas, all my hard work was for naught and I will soon be the proud owner of a new printer as opposed to a new used printer.

All of this has caused me to re-evaluate what I am trying to accomplish as a photographer. One of the facets of photography that appealed to me was the hands-on creation of the art. From the initial loading of the film holders or rolling film onto a cassette, loading the camera with film, setting up the tripod, framing the image, focusing, taking a light meter reading, making adjustments on the lens for the exposure,  placing the film holder in the camera, making the exposure and then onto the darkroom for mixing chemicals, processing the film and then moving onto the print, all of this and more required a hands on approach that made the “craft” of photography a fulfilling experience for me in the final presentation of my art.

Viewing the final print on the wall, a sense of not just accomplishment but a sense of pride in not just presenting my vision, but the presentation of a well-crafted piece of art. That was what I felt I was missing.

That is why I was disappointed with the digital side of things. Many of the items I was making were of a hands on, hand crafted nature and the loss of the printer, the potential loss of a supplier for ink, the need to purchase a printer every few years, has caused me to wonder if digital is the best process to express my vision and complete my many hand crafted projects. Projects like the Chap Books, Folios, Cards and several other ideas that require not just the image but a final piece of well-crafted art held in the hands of the audience.

I am going to end here and come back with a follow up on additional insights and maybe some conclusions regarding my use of digital and film photography.