I’ll always remember my first experiences in the darkroom, watching my prints come up, feeling like something magical was afoot. In recent years, I’ve frequently wished that there was an effective way to use my digital images in the darkroom, and make prints on fiber-based paper that has that special silver-based depth and luminosity.
Hewlett Packard Company has developed updated technology* that makes it possible to create a “digital negative” using a digital file or film scan. That digital negative can be used in a traditional darkroom to make prints of any reasonable size. HP calls this the Large Format Digital Photo Negative Solution. In this article, I’ll review the process in detail, including some of the methods used in the darkroom-printing phase.
The process consists of six steps:
1. Creating a base digital file via camera capture or film scan.
2. Performing normal editing of the image through Photoshop or other application.
3. Adjust image file for correct printing density.
4. Flip and invert file.
5. Print to HP Designjet Z3200 printer using the Photo Negative pre-set for the printer driver.
6. Make a contact-style darkroom print, using your preferred chemistry.
*Printing large format photo negatives with inkjet ink is an old concept. There are a number of books and methods that helped pioneer this. The goal in creating this solution was to make the process of printing large format photo negatives easier, and to achieve maximum quality using the HP Designjet Z3200 printer.