Custom 20"x24" Black & White Pigment Prints by Richard Sexton
Custom 20"x24" Black & White Pigment Prints by Richard Sexton
Leica Store Miami and fine art photographer Richard Sexton are proud to announce our custom black and white pigment print program. If you have always admired the quality of black and white gallery prints, then this is a great opportunity to have your images printed by a master. We are offering two different print sizes, 11"x17" and 20"x24", as well as a portfolio box set of twenty 8.5"x11" prints.
Printing is such an important aspect of photography and it is often forgotten in the age of digital. The fine art of printing has always been, and always will be, the culmination of the making a great photograph. Until an image has been successfully printed, the act of photography is less than totally complete.
Says Sexton about this collaboration, "When Leica Store Miami asked if I’d be interested in providing a premium black and white digital print service for their customers, I readily agreed to something I had thought I’d never do. My full 180 was largely due to my experiences with the Monochrom and Fine Art Printing workshops I’ve conducted with them over the past four years. These workshops have either stressed printing, or have been exclusively devoted to it. Working with the workshop participants and witnessing firsthand the pride and gratification they experienced seeing their photographs in print convinced me this is a vital, much appreciated service, particularly for black and white printing. Quality color printing may be fairly accessible, but black and white printing is overlooked and rapidly becoming a lost art. I feel there is a need for it as a service for serious photographers."
Richard Sexton is regarded as one of the finest black and white printers in the world, but he is also a renowned photographer. He is represented by A Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans, Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta and Samantha Richter in Nashville. Richard has been teaching our Monochrom and Fine Art Digital Printing workshops for the past four years and the art of the print is always the focal point.
Richard Sexton Studio in New Orleans is run by master digital printer Richard Sexton and his longtime assistant, Jonathan Traviesa. Jonathan is a faculty member in the photography department at Tulane University and an accomplished photographer himself. The studio utilizes a post-production workflow in Lightroom and Photoshop to optimize files for printing. They also use the proprietary Imageprint RIP software for archival monochromatic printing on 100% rag papers.
This custom black and white printing service will provide you with gallery quality prints of your own work. Once you place your order, we will reach out to you with instructions on file delivery, paper options and toning preferences.
You will send Richard's studio an edited dng or 16 bit tiff file/s via WeTransfer (or a similar method). They will contact you to verify your paper and toning choices and confirm that the file is a good candidate for printing. *you can also send a jpg file if that's all you have, but please note that it will be harder to correct any issues prior to printing.
¼ hour of file preparation is included in the print price. If a file needs additional image optimization or retouching, the cost is $75/hr billable in ¼ hour increments.
*Retouching refers to removing electrical wires from the sky, removing blemishes in a portrait, etc.
*Image optimization refers to Photoshop work that emulates all the things done in the chemical darkroom—dodging and burning, getting the density and contrast right, cropping, etc.
Paper Size/Image Size
Your image will be printed on 20"x24" paper with an image size of 17"x22". Any custom size that will fit on an 20"x24" sheet is available, but at least a 1" border must be maintained on all sides.
You will be able to choose from the following papers that are 100% rag stock, with no, or minimal, optical brighteners.
Smooth matte - hot press handmade paper that is very smooth with no discernible texture. It has a dull finish with no sheen or gloss whatsoever. The blacks have more of a charcoal look to them and the ink sinks into the paper rather than sitting on top. More forgiving for excessive noise/grain, processing artifacts, halos, etc.
- Textured matte - cold press handmade paper with a faint texture similar to watercolor paper. It has a dull finish with no sheen or gloss whatsoever. The blacks have more of a charcoal look to them and the ink sinks into the paper rather than sitting on top. More forgiving for excessive noise/grain, processing artifacts, halos, etc.
Baryta semi-gloss - very smooth with a low sheen, which is quite similar in character to an air-dried silver gelatin photo paper. The paper has a baryta coating on it, just like traditional photo paper. This paper will achieve a look very similar to a traditional silver gelatin print. Less forgiving for excessive noise/grain, processing artifacts, halos, etc.
You will be able to choose from the following toning techniques:
- Warm selenium (custom split-tone w/ cool shadows and warm highlights)
Please allow 7-10 business days.
Add a custom 24"x28" frame to your photographic print for just $249. We will use frosted black metal Nielsen frames, an archival foam core backing, an archival 4-ply mat and UV plexi-glass.
- Finished Outside Frame Dimensions: 24"x28"
- Nielsen Black Metal 3/8" Frame
- Archival Foam Core Backing
- 4-ply White Archival Mat - 3” border on top and sides, 4” on bottom.
- UV Plexi-Glass
Please add 2 weeks processing time for framing.
UPS shipping in the United States is included. This service is only available in to customers in the USA at this time. We use flat mailers for smaller prints, triangular tubes for larger prints and boxes for the portfolio. *Due to taxes and other fees, free shipping is only available in to customers in the United States at this time. Email us for a shipping quote if you live outside of the US.
A Personal Statement from Richard Sexton Regarding His Printing Philosophy
As a photographer, I work in both color and black/white. My black/white work is offered in the medium of quad tone pigment prints, which is an “ink on paper” process utilizing digital technology. The papers I print on are 100% rag, handmade art papers. Quad tone pigment prints have longevity ratings commensurate with that of other fine art media including traditional photographic processes.
I utilize digital technology for my printing because it allows a greater level of creative control over the final print than traditional processes do. Also, it is the technology most receptive to my particular working methods. I can print with a longer tonal range, at larger scale, on a wider variety of papers than I ever could with traditional processes. In short, I have chosen digital processes for my work because I get aesthetically superior prints with digital. It’s really that simple.
It’s my professional opinion that, all other things being equal, digital prints have a comparable value to traditional prints, based solely on the attributes of the media. Other authorities may answer this question differently, but my view comes from the perspective of a photographer familiar with both traditional and digital processes and whose work is a synthesis of both. There is no inherent superiority of one process over the other. Both involve a lot of machinery that can be temperamental and lacking in the degree of malleability needed at a given instant. Both require comparable levels of skill, patience, and artistic interpretation. Both are capable of achieving results that are either breathtaking or dismal depending upon the skill level of the practitioner.
There is a common misconception that digital imaging is completely non-artisanal. That is to say, a quality result can be achieved at the mere press of a button. . .Anyone can do it. . .There is no real training or skill level involved. . .etc. These opinions are those of individuals who are unfamiliar with a digital post-production workflow or digital printing and parallel similar opinions expressed in the 19th century that were directed at photography as a whole.
The longevity of quad tone pigment prints can all be measured in decades. This technology is new, however. Ink sets are evolving in the direction of greater stability and comprehensive testing using accelerated aging techniques is on-going. So, hard and fast promises for resistance to fading, yellowing, staining, etc, are not simple. Generally speaking, the expected longevity of digital prints should be comparable to traditional prints. Quad tone pigment inks have even higher longevity ratings than color prints. The generally accepted standard for an archivally processed gelatin silver print is 100 years. It should be noted that papers, inks, and humidity resistant UV coatings employed by the photographer are only one side of the equation. I would argue that conservatorship is more significant than any other component in achieving desired longevity. No artwork is more durable than the paper it’s printed on and no artwork will last unless it is properly cared for. Proper framing, matting, lighting, and environmental room conditions are vital for artwork to meet or exceed its anticipated life.
Questions about the Prints:
If you have any questions or concerns, please see the FAQ tab in this listing, call us at 305-921-4433 or send us an email. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
- Smooth matte - hot press handmade paper that is very smooth with no discernible texture. It has a dull finish with no sheen or gloss whatsoever. The blacks have more of a charcoal look to them and the ink sinks into the paper rather than sitting on top. More forgiving for excessive noise/grain, processing artifacts, halos, etc.
Richard Sexton is a widely published and exhibited photographer, who is also a lifelong Leica photographer, beginning with a used M4 in the 1970s and continuing to the present day with the M Monochrom. His most recent project, Enigmatic Stream: Photographs of the Industrial Landscape of the Lower Mississippi River was shot with the M Monochrom. For more information about Richard's work and career see the links below:
A bio can be found on Richard's web site here:
Enigmatic Stream, a current project shot entirely with the Monochrom can be seen here:
A portfolio of work from Ireland, shot entirely with the Monochrom can be seen here:
A portfolio of work shot on b/w film with a Leica M4 can be seen here:
What are the main considerations in deciding paper choice?
Paper white, the tonality or color value of the paper stock itself, is an important consideration in deciding paper choice. We tend to think of all photo and inkjet papers as being “white.” But, there is a great deal of subtlety in the actual color of the paper. 100% rag, handmade papers, with no, or small amounts of, optical brighteners, are not a brilliant white, but are more of a buff color. Of the 3 papers we are offering, the smooth matte is the warmest. The textured matte is actually “whiter.” But, the important thing is that all 3 papers have a slight warmth to the paper white. Glossy photo papers, of which there are many different brands, all tend of have a very strong glossy sheen, and the paper white is cool. These papers are wood pulp, not rag, and are loaded with optical brighteners, to give them a bright paper white. They are not archival, however, because the optical brighteners fade quickly and the paper white changes gradually over time to a more buff color, closer to the natural color of paper made from wood pulp. (Grocery bags are a good example of the natural color of wood pulp and they are no where near “white,” but are light brown in color.) The way a particular paper white absorbs ink will effect tint. The neutrality of the ink is impacted by the paper white. This is a native characteristic of the paper white. So, it is something to consider.
Finally, some folks may be of the opinion that if you print the same file on 3 different types of paper you can make all 3 look identical if you properly manipulate the values of the file to compensate for the paper differences. Not true. And not only that, it’s antithetical to the process of paper choice. Yes, files are prepared differently to account for the different papers they will be printed on. However, the goal of that process is to make the best looking print aesthetically for the paper chosen, not to make matte and glossy prints look identical. Think of it this way, the same musical composition can be played on a flute and a tuba, but the character of the sound is totally different, though the melody is identical. And there are differences the composer has to take into account. A flute is treble clef and a tuba is bass. Musical pitch is totally different between the two, but the melody can be identical. So, it is with image files and paper choices.
What work should I do to the file before it’s uploaded for printing?
You don’t actually have to do anything to the file other than download the dng or jpeg files off your card, make your pick, and send us the raw file. We’ll convert it, optimize it for printing, and then email you a jpeg of the optimized, ready to print, file for your review. All that said, you won’t incur any additional fees for post-production, and you are more likely to get the interpretation you want, if you convert the file yourself, get it looking the way you want on your monitor, save it as a TIFF, and send us the converted file to further optimize for printing. We work with raw and out of camera jpegs to accommodate clients who don’t do any post-production work themselves. Assuming you’re familiar with Lightroom and/or Photoshop, and typically do your own post-production work, then convert and optimize the file to that point where it looks good on your monitor, and then upload it to us. One important note about sending us raw files: They should be dng format, which all Leica camera files are natively. If you’re shooting with a camera that has a proprietary raw format, convert it to dng in Lightroom, or use Adobe’s DNG Converter, which can be downloaded for free from Adobe’s website.
What specific instructions can I provide regarding what I want, or expect, in the print?
When you upload the file to us via We Transfer (or similar service) you can send a note to us directly thru the service. Instructions are particularly helpful when you feel like the state of the file is not quite what you want, but you’re at a loss as to what additional moves are needed to get the file to where you want it to be. Or maybe it needs retouching that’s above your skill level. For instance, you could provide instructions such as, “I want the sky darker and more contrast, but keep the streetscape exactly as it is.” Another example might be, “Could you remove the electrical wires that cross the facades of the buildings on the right side of the frame.” You can even include a jpeg of the file in the upload and use the pencil tool in Photoshop to mark up the changes. In the case of retouching, there will be additional fees incurred, but an estimate will be provided in advance for your approval.
What guidelines can you suggest regarding choice of print toning effects?
As with paper choice, this is largely personal preference. Neutral is the safe choice. All the values from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights are neutral gray. Warm selenium is a custom split-tone we developed with cool shadow values and warm highlight values. A cool shadow value looks blacker than a warm or neutral shadow. So, you get the feel of a slightly richer black in the image. The warm highlight provides the look of a traditional portrait paper that flatters the subject in many situations. This split-tone effect was designed to emulate the look of selenium toned, Agfa Portriga-Rapid, silver gelatin photo paper. Portriga-Rapid hasn’t been made for decades, but it had a huge following in its day for its unique look when it was toned in selenium. Sepia emulates the look of a sepia toned silver gelatin print. All the tones from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights are rendered in subtle brownish tones. Though we refer to this formula as “sepia” the look is actually closer to brown toner, than to sepia toner, which yielded more of a golden tone on most silver gelatin papers.
What if I just shoot jpegs and don’t do any post-production work on my files? Can I still expect a gallery quality print from the file?
This answer comes with a caveat: Provided you did everything right when you captured the jpeg file, then yes, you can get a great print from it. However, if there are problems with the jpeg file, particularly in terms of exposure, then the problems are less fixable than they would be if you had shot in raw format. In any event, every file sent to us is evaluated prior to printing to determine if there are any issues that may not be fixable, and which may compromise the final result. We will explain those issues in detail via email and won’t proceed until we hear from you.
If I’m a film shooter, or a former film shooter, can I utilize this service to get digital prints from my film negatives?
Absolutely. We can make prints from scans of film images and if you only have the negative, we can digitize the film negative for you. The prices for digitizing film negatives are the same as for post-production work for digital captures—$75/hr. billable in 1/4 hr. increments. So, there are additional fees involved, but film works for digital printing too. Plus, we’ll send you the full resolution digital file from your film original, along with a large jpeg for posting on social media or for emailing. So, you’ll have a digital and film original, as well as the print.
When I send in a file that I know needs additional work before printing, will I be able to see what the altered file looks like before it’s printed?
We will send you a large jpeg for your review in all instances where significant changes were made to your file. Bear in mind that a jpeg viewed on a computer monitor, or a phone, will not look the same as your print. Not exactly. A monitor display and a print are two different media. But, a jpeg of the file will give you an idea of the changes made and it’s even more effective when compared side-by-side to a jpeg of the same image before our changes were made. Further, the better your monitor, its calibration, and the viewing environment where you work on your files, the more accurate the jpeg preview will be to the print. I do NOT recommend reviewing the approval jpeg on a phone. You should review the file on your best monitor.
What factors are significant in deciding the size of the print?
Like paper choices and toning effects, size is subjective. Many folks like huge prints merely because they are so much easier to make now and cheaper too. But, “just because I can” isn’t the best reason usually. As with all other aspects of the file, we will carefully review sharpness and noise in the file and will recommend whether the image would work more effectively in the smaller or larger size we offer. All technical issues aside, it often comes down to wall space or storage space. So, that can be a major consideration, as well. We don’t offer a size larger than 24” on the long dimension primarily because this is a service provided across distance. The transportation costs and transit damage risks increase exponentially as size increases, particularly when the print is framed. So, our decisions on sizes were based on two things—keeping options simple and straightforward, and including domestic shipping in the print pricing.
"I sent Richard a negative that was nigh-impossible to print, and did a masterful job with it: unblocking highlights, bringing out details lost in deep shadow, and all while producing a print that looks entirely natural and effortless. What a delight to be able to draw on his virtuosity!" - Richard P.