About Piezography Inks
Piezography does not use color ink to print black & white photography. Instead, the color inks of a supported Epson printer are replaced with our Piezography inks. Our inks are manufactured from pure monochromatic pigments chosen for their fade-resistance and are available in up to seven progressively lighter shades of black.
The benefits of using seven shades of black ink over Epson's three shades of black ink is literally tens of thousands of more gray levels, significantly smoother tonal response, better highlight and shadow detail, and higher resolution. For most of our customers however, the biggest benefits are that a Piezography print has much more "breath", "depth" and "spatial quality".
The Piezography process uses a different printer driver and uses the Piezography K6 or K7 "media profile" which allows you to print with up to 40% more ink than Epson ABW. This is the breath that everyone describes. Where Epson ABW highlights are made with just a few dots of darker ink, Piezography highlights are made with a significant amount of very light ink.
Piezography uses two lighter shades of ink and two darker shades of ink than Epson's ABW process. Our "LK and LLK" (shades 4 & 5) do not have the color cast of Epson's inks. Epson has to compromise between printing both color and monochromatic images with one printer. Piezography is a no-compromise, highest-standard solution. So, if your black & white work really matters - maybe a dedicated black & white printer is in store for you.
We offer five different sets of inks that each have a very particular look. Each is available in up to seven shades of ink. Because the base density of all of our ink sets is made of pure carbon, these ink sets have extreme longevity. Even though we offer a 100% pure carbon ink set we call Piezography Carbon, you should choose your ink set based upon your aesthetic preference. Each of the ink sets is both matte and glossy/baryta compatible. For glossy and baryta printing we offer Piezography glossy options (a photo black and gloss overprint).Piezography Carbon
Piezography Carbon is proving to be a remarkable ink for use in black & white photography. This ink has the distinction of being the most lightfast ink ever tested at the Aardenburg Image Archives. It is the only ink set that is outpacing all HP, Canon and Epson inks whether used for color or the special subsets used for b&w. Piezography Carbon is literally unaffected by long-term exposure to light. It may be the longest lasting material ever developed for photography.
So, what does Carbon look like? It is definitely warm. It can be cooled by printing it on cooler white papers. For some reason, Canson papers turn it brown. But, Canson paper coatings uniquely affect Piezography inks in unique ways. They are definitely worth testing if only to see the unique tones they produce. I think that Hahnemuhle Photo Rag and JonCone Studio Type 2 are probably the two best papers to print it on for matte. The former with some OBA is a tad cooler then the latter without any OBA. On the other hand, the tone on Canson Edition Etching Rag is amazing. You have to find your tone that you prefer by testing on different paper whites.
You can expect to reach a dMax of 1.65 on matte papers such as JonCone Studio Type2 and Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. When glossy printing according to our directions you can reach dMax levels as high as 2.80. Piezography Glossy produces a finish in which you will not be able to tell where the inks end and the paper begins. When used as directed, it produces a uniform surface without any gloss differential nor bronzing.Piezography Warm Neutral
The best way to describe Warm Neutral is that of a warm photographic gray similar to the bromide or slightly azo greenish surfaces of yesteryear. Warm Neutral allows the strength of the photograph to come through in a way that is very familiar. It is a visual neutrality that is different than printing with Piezography Neutral. It is probably one of the most versatile inks we sell. Like all Piezography inks it can be made to be warmer or cooler depending upon the paper that it is printed on. For a near perfect Agfa Portriga replicant - use Piezography Warm Neutral Glossy option on JonCone Studio Type 5 paper.Piezography Neutral
The Piezography Neutral ink set is designed to be achromatic to the human visual system when printed on a very specific color of white paper. The paper we designed it on is Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. When viewed under a full spectrum 5000k light source (this is the color of white that a standard human sees as neutral), a photograph on these two papers will appear to be neutral.
Because the inks are neutral, they will pick up the tone of any paper white and shift in that direction. The inks therefore can be made to appear warmer on warmer papers and cooler on cooler papers. A wide range of color tone is possible in this manner. The end result is a perfect marriage of ink and paper. A perfect monotone is produced.Piezography Selenium
Piezography Selenium is one of Jon Cone's favorite ink sets. His professor at Ohio University was Arnold Gassan. Arnold wrote one of the definitive text books on the history of Photography. His text books are still highly sought after: A Chronology of Photography; The Color Print Book; Handbook for Contemporary Photography.
Gassan encouraged Cone to study the chemistry of photography. Although his tutelage was difficult (at best), his insistence that Cone make his own chemistry, fully understand the zone system, and become a skilled practitioner of the darkroom was very influential in Cone's later work as a development printmaker. Arnold was very ill in his later life, suffering from terminal cancer. Cone began helping Gassan to sort out some digital workflow to ready his last archives. Cone eventually asked Gassan to provide the definitive short-bath Selenium toned print on his favorite Ilford fiber based paper. That print was used for the *ab values to formulate Selenium K7 inks.
As for its final color in glossy printing, on Epson Exhibition Fiber paper it's very reminiscent of Ilford fiber based... maybe even a dead ringer. Probably hard to get any more replicant than this combination. Not to ring the bell to loud, but this may be the best possible replacement for the actual short bath, selenium-toned, fiber based silver print. On JonCone Studio Type 5, the warmth of the paper brings that warm Agfa paper back into the picture. This ink is our number one selling ink because it is so representative of darkroom printing.Piezography Special Edition
This is a unique ink set specially blended by Jon Cone for split-tones that displays crisp neutral highlights which meld into selenium which then meld into Carbon shadows with a clear black. This is the most beautiful ink set Piezography has ever released to the public.
This ink set was influenced heavily by Cone's printmaking for photographer Gregory Colbert and his Ashes and Snow exhibitions (the Nomadic Museum) in Santa Barbara, Tokyo, and Mexico City. The inks that Cone developed for Colbert are extremely complex and they numbered 11 individual formulations. However, there were three subtle splits in the Ashes and Snow prints made for the exhibitions. The Colbert prints were seen by more than 13 million people. Cone wanted to commemorate his three year effort with something which might have a universal appeal as did the Colbert prints.
Special Edition inks warm as they get darker in tone. Many people describe the finished results as looking like platinum/palladium printing.Piezography SplitTone
All of our inks are capable of being combined into split toning ink sets. Our favorite which we have been using at Cone Editions Press since nearly forever (it seems) is Warm Neutral in the bottom end and Selenium in the top. For this we use Warm Neutral shades in positions 2, 3, 4 and put Selenium in shades 5, 6, 7. We get a nice split about the midtones. All of our inks can be used like this to mix and match and to customize to your desires. The only rule is that you must use the set of shades from 1 through 7 for a traditional K7 system or shades 1 through 6 for a K6 or Piezography 2 system.
You can even blend the inks together. For example, if Selenium is a little too strong for your tastes, it can be tempered with Carbon or Warm Neutral. You can blend the inks together by shaking them in a clean bottle (we supply these). The only rule is you can not mix shades together. Some shade 2 with another shade 2 is ok. Just a little shade 2 in another shade 3 will render the system useless with Piezography media profiles. We have many customers who blend highly personal ink sets. Tyler Boley and John Dean are masters of this process.
When the color inks are replaced with shades of black ink, the Epson printer driver software can no longer be used. Naturally, the Epson printer’s software is programmed to print only with color inks. We designed Piezography K6 and K7 inks to be used with QuadTone RIP by Roy Harrington. We wrote our own profiling application for this software that allows us to produce media profiles. We provide many of these media profiles free of charge to the author or QuadTone RIP. You can purchase QuadTone RIP as a $50 shareware and use our media profiles for free. The download of QuadTone RIP includes a large collection of Piezography media profiles which are called "curves".
What we do is use a proprietary method to create a perfect linearization from dMin (paper white) to dMax (maximum black). This linearization is straight and without the characteristic s-curve that is synonymous with conventional darkroom printing. The result is shadows and highlights with detail that could never be realized in a darkroom nor realized with Epson's ABW system. Digitized images print with this unique characteristic and without any “tell’tale” sign of dots or other evidence that it has been printed with an inkjet printer. Even the strongest loupe will not reveal dots or dither. Unlike the Epson ABW system (which uses three shades of black in combination with color inks), Piezography always uses six or seven shades of ink. The Piezography curves through the QTR driver the Epson printer its highest dithering frequency. The resulting print can stand on its own merit.The Results
Firstly, we print a great deal more ink than does Epson’s Advanced Black & White process. The result is that we reflect more substantive light back to the viewer’s eyes from the region of the highlights all the way to the mid-tones. This is a very key area of density that distinctly separates Piezography from EPSON. If you can imagine taking a gigantic crate of marbles and tipping it over. The majority of marbles would rest adjacent to the crate while the remainder would scatter outwards in a pattern that would eventually have fewer and further in between marbles…This pattern of marbles is similar to the Epson dither pattern with its three black inks. In fact, the Epson printer driver has to print fewer and further in between dots of inks to “fool” the eye into thinking it is seeing very light grays. Epson prints as little as 2-3% total inks in making its highlights.
Piezography with seven shades of ink and its proprietary media profiles, prints nearly 45% total ink in the highlights of a very light shade of black ink. Light passes through this ink and reflects off the paper back through the ink and to the viewer’s eyes. The depth is amazing. And this depth continues to amaze right to the mid-tones. From the mid-tones back, Piezography begins to resolve levels of detail that escape the Epson ABW system. We have two additional shades of ink in the darker regions and two additional shades of ink in the highlight regions. It makes a huge difference.
Piezography K7 simply has a lot more of what you need in order to make the best possible black & white print. While Epson has to satisfy color users, it gives only a little to black & white photographers. We only need to satisfy black & white photographers. So we give them our all.
One of the benefits of using our seven curve profiles with the QuadTone RIP is the enhanced resolution that Piezography produces in an Epson printer. This major difference is the result of not needing to dither darker inks to make them appear lighter. Rather, Piezography K6 & K7 will print only with the high frequency dithering which eliminates all paper white spaces between dots, filling that normally unprinted area with printed information. Take a look below to see the difference between Epson ABW and Piezography K7.The Printers We Support
Sometimes this is the first place to read. Piezography is obviously desirable. if you got this far - you must want it. Because we use the QuadTone RIP to power our system, we can only support the printers that QuadTone RIP supports. They are the Epson 1400 (USA model only), 1430 (USA model only), R800/R1800, R1900, R2000, 2100, 2200, 2400, 2880, R3000, 3800, 3880, 4000, 4800, 4880, 4900, 7600, 7800, 7880, 7890, 7900, 9600, 9800, 9880, 9890, 9900, 11880, SureColor P600 forthcoming. Other new SureColor printers have been designed by Epson to not function with 3rd party carts - these may take a year or more to devise a way to use with more creative ink supplies than the OEM.