Chromogenic prints, or C-type photographic printing, are the digital way to expose photographs, while still maintaining the glory of a chemical development process.
Long gone are the days of film reels spilling out from cameras. Your precious photographs are now contained safely on a small SD card or memory stick. While this saves the hassle of having to go through boundless negatives and purchase expensive and bulky equipment, like viewing tables, the digital process leaves most artists wanting when it comes to developing quality prints.
Few things are as lucid and breathtaking as a photograph that has been developed manually. Chemically developed prints can make all of the difference in the clarity and quality of a photograph. C-type photographic printing is an ideal response to this burgeoning need.
C-type photographic printing is a way to chemically develop stunning photos from digital “negatives”. C-type photographic printing gives the artist a wide range of options when it comes to materials as well. C-type photographic printing works with matte and glossy paper, metallic paper, and even Duratrans film, making it ideal for marketing campaigns, art installments, and even family photos.
In traditional photo development, negatives are projected onto chemically sensitive paper in order to expose the negative image onto the paper. At this point, the developer controls the focus, duration, and intensity of light in order to adjust the depth and contrast of the resulting photo. Once the photographic paper has been properly exposed, it is then processed by a photographic developing chemical, followed up with a bleach “fix”, and finally washed to remove the processing chemicals. The result is stunning- if the photo has been exposed properly.
With c-type photographic printing, the chemical development process remains the same, but the way the photo negative is exposed gets a little help from technological expertise. In c-type photographic printing, instead of projecting the image onto the photosensitive paper manually, the digital file is projected onto the paper using lasers or LEDs, making this part of the process computer controlled and perfectly executed.
C-type photographic printing allows the photographer many options based on their preferences and intentions with the photo. Using c-type photographic printing techniques, the photo can be enlarged without sacrificing quality. If the artist wants to sell their work, or make signs, or even produce backlit advertising and art, c-type photographic printing allows for the flexibility to achieve these results, thanks to its ability to work with many different types of paper.
For color photographs that you plan to mat, frame, or display with either a gloss or matte finish, standard chromogenic photo paper is available. These types of papers are a great choice for standard photos with a lustrous and understated feel.
If you plan on displaying a backlit piece, great for advertising campaigns or art installments, Plastic chromogenic papers are available, such as Kodak’s Duratrans. These photos are developed directly on a translucent base material that allow light to flow through, brightening the photo, without degrading the image quality.
Metallic papers are wonderful for producing an intense three dimensional look. Metallic papers are often used to make skin tones look very flattering or for crisp black and white photos that pack a punch. These papers are ideal for photos that require intensity in color or visual texture.
C-type photographic printing also produces long lasting photo prints, that won’t fade over time in the same way laser jet or giclée printed photos will. The c-type photographic printing process is specifically designed to produce photographic prints that will last a long time, similar to the aging ability that traditional manual developed prints offer.
This answer depends largely on what the artist plans to do with his or her works. While c-type photographic printing delivers exceptional results and high quality finishes that may be useful if you’re planning on selling or displaying your work, if you’re looking for a cheaper and more practical option for general scrapbooking or household candid photos, regular photo printing may be more appropriate. C-type photographic printing retains photo quality even when the photo is enlarged, so if you have a project or display that needs to be large and noticeable, c-type photographic printing is usually the preferred choice. Typically, as regularly printed photos are enlarged, the image can become blurred, grainy, or drowned out. C-type photographic printing will keep your photos crisp and clear no matter the scale.
Inkjet printing does allow for a greater range of paper weight, surface texture, and paper whites, should the artist feel that different textures or base colors would better compliment their images.
C-type photographic printing also allows for greater subtlety or intensity of tone. They offer smoother gradients from light to dark. These processes are notable because c-type photographic printing has continuous tone. They are capable of generating multiple values for each pixel unit on the paper- meaning that not only can any given pixel be red, blue, or green at the same time, but they can also express different intensities of those colors. Inkjet or giclée prints do not allow for this type of color expression because they essentially create tonal range from varying the amount of dots of color per inch, using the concentration of dots to deliver the look of intensity.
While this creates drama with the intensity of tone, giclée prints are able to produce more saturated and vivid colors because of the bright pigments that make up each ink individually.
So making the choice between c-type photographic printing and other methods really comes down to what it is the artist is attempting to convey with their photo.
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