Article by Jeffrey Lazo of Digital Precision Imaging (www.prodpi.com).
Ever wonder how we make awesome prints from your even more awesome images? Well, I would like to share a little “behind the scene” view of how we take pixels and make prints on paper. I would like to start with where you leave off, Photoshop. After you have done all of your editing, cropping, sharpening, etc, the perfect image is on screen. Using the “Info” toolbox as shown below you can probe into your images and see Red, Green, Blue (RGB) values for each pixel that makes up your image. In the sample below you see that the pixel that my cursor is on has a value of 158 Red, 171 Green, and 161 Blue. Now…onto our first printer type, lasers in our Noritsu’s.
Our Noritsu printers use a laser exposure system. It uses three lasers, Red, Green, and Blue, to expose your images. Each pixel, as defined by your image, and seen above is “fires” the appropriate laser into a mirror, the light is then bounced around another polygon shaped mirror, finally traveling through a glass lens system to be exposed onto traditional RA-4 paper. The amazing thing is that this process is so fast that we can create thousands of 4×6 prints per hour!
Image courtesy of Noritsu
In the case of our Fujimoto SHP-5080 enlargement printer things are a little different, though achieving the same end goal, beautiful, continuous tone photographic prints from digital. The Fujimoto uses RGB LED’s or light emitting diodes, in place of Noritsu’s Lasers. The Fujimoto has a block of numerous RGB LED’s, these LED’s feed light to a 20″ wide print head via fibre optic wire. The print head contains many blocks of fibre optic ends terminated by micro shutter arrays that are switched on and off as determined by the RGB values as outline in your image file. This too is amazing technology that allows for high throughput onto traditional Fuji Crystal Archive Super Type PD paper.
Image courtesy of Fujimoto
After the image is exposed onto the paper, it travels through color reversal chemistry. This chemistry and process is exactly the same no matter which printer we print with. The paper travels through the processor via a series or rollers and guides.
from “How stuff Works.com”
The latent-image sites are developed, and oxidized developer molecules combine with the color-forming couplers to create a silver image and a dye image. The silver image and any remaining unexposed silver halide is removed in a combined bleach-plus-fix solution (called the BLIX). The print is then carefully washed to remove any residual chemicals. The print is dried.
The technology of digital imaging, from capture to output is simply astounding. This technology paired with the talents and artistry of you, the portrait and wedding photographer, allows for your client to enjoy a slice of life, frozen in time to remember and cherish forever.
Jeffrey is the COO of Digital Precision Imaging in San Luis Obispo, California. His labs serves digital professional photographers across the country. You can find more information on Jeffrey and his wife and business partner, Caitlyn, on the website www.prodpi.com.