Digital Negatives that Work ~ PiezoDN Syllabus

Revision 2019

This course will take you from basics to to controlling the platinum / palladium print in four days. Absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about Piezography digital negatives and quite a bit more. Learn directly at the Studio that invented Piezography from the instructors who continually design and update it!

Day 1: Necessary Knowledge
please arrive between 9:30a-10:00a

A little knowledge goes a long way. A lot of knowledge goes further. The right knowledge is essential to a good start as well as advanced image 
development. This day is devoted to making sure you step on the correct path.  

  1. Introductions of workshop attendees and instructors and viewing attendees portfolios (optional)

  2. Installation of Piezography Professional Toolset, PiezoDN, QuadTone RIP, Print Tool, Piezography ICC profiles, Piezography Targets, and Documentation onto each workshop participant's laptop.

  3. Connection to the Cone Editions Print Server via network, and connection to pre-calibrated hardware calibration displays to each workshop participant's laptop.

  4. Cone Editions Press studio tour and introductions to support staff. A visit to InkjetMall offices and introduction to the superautomatica coffee maker (Ethiopian Harar medium roast). 

  5. Tour of the Cone Editions platinum print lab and introduction to Malde-Ware chemistry and workflow, and the three humidity system options.

  6. Demonstration of paper preparation, emulsion coating, drying and humidification, exposure, processing, and washing.

  7. Lunch break

  8. Supported printers & System Requirements

  9. QuadTone RIP & QTR Print Tool

  10. The Piezography digital negative ink sets

  11. Intro to Piezography Curves

  12. Installation of QuadTone RIP and the Piezography media profiles libraries

  13. User filled cartridges, chip resetting, and basic printer operation ~ ongoing throughout the day.

  14. Installation of Piezography ink systems

  15. Demo of the PiezoDN negative printing workflow using the Match Print to Screen option.

  16. Setting up Photoshop, Lightroom & QuadTone RIP.

  17. Attendees produce their first negatives using the Match Print to Screen option.

Piezography® has evolved from a system invented by Jon Cone at Cone Editions Press in 1994 that operated on $123,000 IRIS inkjet printers. Piezography for Epson printers was first released in 1999 as a beta and in 2000 as a commercial release.

Since then, Piezography has introduced many important innovations such as using 100% pigment ink for Epson printers prior to Epson itself; proprietary monochromatic ink ICC profiles for the Epson printer driver; acrylic co-polymer encapsulated pigment inks. Proprietary gamma 2.20 output media profiles for the QuadTone RIP printer driver. Perfected digital negatives. Split toning ink sets. The list goes on...

In the space of a small media file called a “curve” in QuadTone RIP, is the innovation of Piezography software. The Piezography profiler produces media profiles which turn QuadTone RIP into a turnkey operation. These Piezography curves are produced on a proprietary software which we began writing about 2002. They enable QTR to force the Piezography ink laden Epson printer to produce much higher resolution than the printer was capable of. It produces extremely smooth output that imitates a modified Gamma 2.20 contrast and it separates highlights and shadows like nobody’s business.

This is the day where you learn how to prepare your printer, how to install the software and inks, and how to operate the system to get the best possible output.

Day 2: Necessary Practice

I know I can fly! Just a little reminder here and there - but it’s time for less talking and more rocking. Today it’s time to begin printing with the systems on your own.

  1. Repeat demonstration of rod coating technique.

  2. Each workshop participant will coat their first sheet of paper with Malde-Ware emulsion the neutral Malde-Ware Methodology 2 emulsion.

  3. Coated sheets will be humidified using the whole room method.

  4. Digging a little deeper into Photoshop, Lightroom & QuadTone RIP

  5. Participants will expose, process and wash their first prints.

  6. Lunch Break

  7. Demonstration of the processes for determining optimum exposure and negative density range

  8. Demonstration of the PiezoDN negative printing workflow using the Linear option.

  9. Demonstration of imaging techniques especially conducive to Piezography and PiezoDN.

Today the workflow begins in detail. First we show, then you do on your own. Today you will be coating Malde-Ware emulsion onto paper, drying and humidifying it, exposing and processing your first print from the film negative you printed yesterday.  

Piezography was actually designed to be used with a very specific and easy workflow. It has none of the complications facing other QuadTone RIP users experimenting with other ink brands, etc. So we want you to be able to concentrate on your imaging rather than struggling with printing.

Once the initial surprises are out of the way - you will find the workflow rather turnkey and simple considering the excellent results Piezography produces. It really is not difficult to to produce a high standard print. Attendees will begin to print negatives and make Pt/Pd prints. 

Our goals today are to show both advanced and more simple methods of PiezoDN workflow that are tailored towards each participants unique temperature. We do this in darkroom process as well. We recognize that high standards can be met by more than one workflow. and that not all practitioners will want to choose only one method.

Day 3: Dig a Little Deeper

Day three, we get rolling for real. Everyone is printing negatives, doing calibrations, doing platinum printing in the darkroom, boom!

  1. Resolution, scaling & image sharpening for digital negatives.

  2. Making soft proof profiles for platinum / palladium printing.

  3. Custom linearization of the PiezoDN digital negative system.

  4. Imaging in a What You See is What You Get environment to make Pt/Pd prints that imitate your display.

  5. Lunch Break

  6. Free Print Time

Today we will dig a little deeper into how we prepare image files for making digital negatives. We’ll demonstrate in both Photoshop and Lightrooom.

It’s also time to dig deep PiezoDN software that is used to linearize negatives for any alternative process. We only use Pt/Pd in our darkroom because it is environmentally safe. But, the technique used for linearizing Pt/Pd is the same for any Alt Proc.

As we dig deeper you will learn that there are two ways that the PiezoDN software can linearize your negatives. We start with a perfect linearization from paper white to maximum black that has tens of thousands of gray levels and produced by measuring a single contact print from a PiezoDN target.

Then we show you how to make a linearization that is adaptive to your display. In other words, Pt/Pd is beautiful as a process but its contrast is quite different than that of a display. What if you prefer to match the image on your display? That’s the second method, and is just as easy to learn.

Today you’ll be measuring targets and entering the data into PiezoDN software. You’ll coat your paper, expose the PiezoDN 129 step test target, process and dry the print. Line it up under the Eye1 spectro and make your measurements to save and insert into the PiezoDN sofware. Choose one or both of the resultant curves for QTR that PiezoDN creates and make a new negative that is perfectly linear. The proof will be in the print you make from the neg.

Day 4: On Your Own

Now take what you’ve learned and go forth and make prints!

  1. Print negatives, coat papers, expose them, process them, repeat (if this is what you wish to do on your final day.)

  2. Sit back down with an instructor to go over the PiezoDN software again (if you want to.)

  3. Make some regular Piezography prints using the same ink set that you printed your negatives with (if you want to.)

  4. Attend a break-out session with Dana Hillesland to watch her maintain an Epson printer and answer your questions (if you want to.)

  5. You get the idea, right? This fourth day is yours to either make more Pt/Pd prints or learn more stuff, or ask questions, or make regular Piezography prints or and all of the above!

Congratulations! You just learned more about how to make high quality platinum and palladium prints than you probably anticipated. The process required no math skills nor complicated software procedures. Best of all, there were no compromises encountered because color inks are not used in the PiezoDN process. You also learned that your Piezography Digital Negative ink set makes Piezography prints!

Today continue to hone your skills in the darkroom, appreciate that what you’re printing meets your expectations, and revel in “getting there”. There’s time to make regular Piezography prints once we close the wet process.

You can also take time this day to learn about printer maintenance, or sit down again with an instructor to go through the PiezoDN software system.

We close the wet darkroom early in the afternoon to ensure everyone has dry prints to bring home with them.