How to Create Digital Negatives for Alternative Printing eBook

October 31, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

In my 30 page How to Create Digital Negatives for Alternative Printing eBook, I walk you through the entire process of how to create digital negatives for your analog alternative printmaking (platinum, palladium, salt, van dyke, silver gelatin, etc.) using Photoshop.  The eBook is in PDF format. 

Get Immediate Access Now and start making your digital negatives today.  

Digital Negative Overview

A digital negative is a film-based negative that was edited and printed on a computer and printed on an inkjet printer for the purpose of making an analog contact print.  

Photographers arrive at using digital negatives for different reasons.  A lot of photographers have moved to the digital medium, but they love analog alternative printmaking so they need a way to create a negative from their digital file so they can make the contact prints.  A traditional film photographer may elect to make all of their edits (crops, contrast, dodging, burning, etc.) inside of Photoshop and make contact prints from the digital negative as opposed to making all of those edits in the darkroom.  The possibilities are endless and the reasons that you want to pursue making a digital negative will depend on you and your goals.  I walk you through the entire process of how to create digital negatives for the type of prints you want to make.  

The basic idea behind a digital negative is to capture the image on a camera (digital or film) and then process the digitized image (RAW or scanned) and leverage the power of Photoshop to print the negative.  The hard part is in the creation of the custom curves required for contrast and densities corrections resulting from the distortion between what you see on your monitor and the chemical based printing process.  Not to worry, I walk you through the entire process.  

In order to make a high quality digital negative you will need to create a customized correction curve in Photoshop, which ultimately allows your analog print to be made.  Once all of the variables are accounted for in your environment and processes the correction curves can be calculated and then saved in Photoshop as .acv files so that you can apply them to future prints that use the same process.  

Get Immediate Access Now and start making your digital negatives today.  

You should know that analog photographic printing processes are not linear because they are based on chemistry.  This simply means that the density of your print is not same as the inverse negative that you create when scanning your film or inversing a digital file. The way that plays out is that your highlights are brighter than expected and your shadows are darker than the values on the source negative.  This is where your custom correction curve comes to the rescue and why they must be customized for your processes and specific environment.  I could give you my curves but it wouldn’t do you much good.  I do something even better.  I teach you how to create your own custom curves that are specific to your environment. 

You will need to use a step table (a.k.a. step tablet) to measure the changes that occur between your negative and final print (non-linear distortion).  I have included a step table .TIFF file for you.  The step table has known densities and your job is to determine the relationship between the source values and the printed values, so you can create a custom correction curve.

I walk you through every step in the dilative negative workflow process as outlined below.  

Digital Negative Workflow:  

1 – Decide on your printing process (silver gelatin, platinum, salt, etc.)  
2 – Select your variables (paper, chemicals, etc.) and determine base exposure
2 – Create a custom correction curve for your specific printing method
3 – Create a soft proofing file in Photoshop
4 – Edit your photograph in Photoshop for creative and artistic purposes
5 – Apply the correction curve, Invert photo to make it a negative and flip it
6 – Print the digital negative on Pictorico OHP transparency film
7 – Make the analog contact print by hand

Get Immediate Access Now and start making your digital negatives today.  

Get my Free Darkroom Newsletter and/or my Wildlife Photography Newsletter and never miss an update again. Subscribe to my annual Tim Layton Fine Art Darkroom Photography Chronicle and receive all of my articles curated into a beautifully formatted PDF eBook every year.  View my Learning Materials for darkroom and large format photographers that include video workshops, eBooks, and quick reference cards. Purchase copies of the Darkroom Underground Magazine.

-Tim Layton 

Tim Layton
Darkroom & Large Format Photography
Platinum Histograph Heirloom Prints & MiniaturesTM

 


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