Asiago Artisan Archival Printing… aka Rant.

The other day a photographer friend of mine, who I enjoy teasing on a regular basis, asked me if a “professional” print shop was blowing smoke up his skirt (we can talk about the skirt later) with regards to print “A” or print “C” being archival quality and such and such didn’t use “C” and therefore the prints would change color in a year or two.  He asked me what I thought about this. He was hearing about 110 years longevity and blah blah blah.  Well, he suggested I share the response I gave him here on the blog. WTF… here’s pretty much what I told him:

…Anybody that says 110 years is full of [expletive]. The longevity of a print is dependent upon exposure to UV, humidity, temperature and the frequency of sudden changes in the environment in which they are stored. It is really just a marketing pile of bull [expletive] if you ask me. “Archival inks” [typically] means the breakdown under UV light specification and that is only part of the story. The adhesion of the ink droplets to the substrate (paper) isn’t specified and that’s a factor as well regardless of the paper’s “archival” specification. You might as well talk about “artisan” ink or “artisean” ink or “asswipe” ink.  {asswipe being an anagram and not a reference to a towel used on a subgenus of Equus}

Now don’t get me wrong, getting the highest quality does make a difference as compared to [expletive] bum rip off inks.  [many, such as some of the pigment inks from Epson, are very good.]

As to artifacts, there are a zillion things that can cause those and I could probably give you a blow by blow if I looked at them under a loupe or microscope. The thing is, you changed the color profile, so in terms of color integrity – all bets are off and what you get is a crap shoot.  sRGB color profile 8 bit jpegs are junior league hobbyist specifications. [professionals use the camera profile with 16 bit RAW images]   Converting a jpeg to a tif (or anything else for that matter) is an aggressive exercise of your right arm [doing nothing – an inside joke].

Any time you have an RGB to CMYK+ conversion there will be issues which are compounded by different file types and color profiles. Heck, each paper has a different color profile and with an image such as yours, there is no frame of reference (I am assuming you didn’t provide a reference file – because that would only have meaning if you shot a reference card along with the original photograph under the same exact conditions and did no processing of the image afterwards (which is obvious that didn’t happen).

Bottom line?  I can make ANY print change color and get blotchy in about two weeks. All I have to do is get out a heat gun and black light and [screw around] with the humidity and temperature. I can turn any image to [expletive] ;^) I have very competitive pricing for that if you are interested.

What’s the solution?  Well, you can have very low standards and accept what you get. Or… you can do like me and spend your life savings on equipment to do it yourself learning all of the complicated as [heck] issues with regards to printing. Another option is getting a reasonably good printer, and learn what you get out of it and how to [adjust] your images to get what you can get out of the printer through trial and error (this is what most people do).

Want to blow your mind?

Take a photograph of an oil painting and then send that un-doctored file to a service bureau. Then look at what they give you as a print compared to the original oil painting. You will be shocked because there will be a huge difference. oops. Well guess what? That difference is always there, you just don’t know it because you don’t have a frame of reference to compare. I guess you can hold it up to your computer monitor… ha ha ha ha ha… that is really funny. Sorry.  Printing is not an exact science and the results aren’t necessarily consistent.

There, does that help? Probably not.
Hope somebody else got something out of this ty-raid ;^)




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