Technical notes - Rob de Loe

Technical notes

It shouldn't matter how a photograph was made, or what gear was used. But many people (OK, many photographers!) like to know anyway. If that's you and you're curious, I provide a bit of background in these technical notes.

Cameras and Lenses

I used to be a large format film photographer (4x5). My favourite camera was a wonderful Wisner Technical Field made entirely of wood and leather, brass and glass.The images I made with film and printed on silver gelatin still exist, but not on this website. These images are all from digital photography.

When I made the switch to digital photography in 2014, I wanted to be able to use some of the movements that view cameras allow. Until early 2017 I used a Sony A7R mirrorless camera with dual Mirex adapters and medium format Pentax lenses. This was an excellent system that provided a lot of movements, but I’ve since switched to the smaller format Fuji X-T2. Preserving the ability to tilt and shift was crucial to me. I managed to do that using film-era Olympus OM and Canon lenses on my Fuji X-T2. If you're interested, I've prepared detailed notes on how you can get tilt-shift on APS-C sensors.

Carbon Inkjet Printing

Most of the images we see today are on screens. For me, a photograph is still a physical thing -- a print. I used to make silver gelatin prints in a darkroom. The prints I make today have very different qualities, while still preserving the core values of black and white. I use inkjet printers and monochrome inks to print on natural, unbrightened matte cotton paper. These monochrome inks range in tone from deep black to the lightest gray. They replace all the coloured inks you'd normally find in the printer. The result is a truly monochrome print that testing has shown can last longer than a silver gelatin print. With the addition of a small amount of blue toner in one position in the printer, I can use this monochrome inkset to make prints that have tones ranging from warm to neutral. There are two main approaches to this kind of printing: the turnkey system developed by Jon Cone, and the open source system developed by Paul Roark. I use Paul Roark's “Eboni Variable Tone” system because of its enormous flexibility, its low cost, and the excellent results you can achieve. For more information visit Paul Roark's website (www.paulroark.com). This approach to carbon inkjet printing requires Epson printers. I’m using an Epson 3880, a wide format printer that can make prints up to 17”. I have a second Epson 3880 in storage as a backup because newer models of Epson printers no longer allow cartridge re-filling, which is essential in my workflow. Roy Harrington’s Quadtone RIP software drives the printer and allows for the extremely smooth tones and precise control needed in this workflow.


City Hall in the Wading Pool 1
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