My workflow has changed considerably over the years. It started with film and large format cameras. I learnt to hand print both my colour and black & white work. I printed on rc papers, such as Ilford rc Iflord Cibachrome, Fuji R4 and fibre based papers like Agfa. In the late nineties I moved to digital printing, scanning my films with drum scanners, processing in Photoshop and outputting with light jets onto traditional photographic papers. Some were Ilford Ifochrome (the newer rebranded Cibachrome), Fuji Crystal Archive and Kodak digital papers. When Inkjets came of age I switched to pigment on cotton. My journey back to cotton papers had started. My preferred printers were Epson printing on Innova smooth cotton museum quality rag paper. This was one of the most popular printing papers with us fine artists here in Australia, but unfortunately importing has stopped. Printing on matte papers is much more like drawing, they are soft and expressive. Now I am printing on Centuron Silk and using Ilford pear as my proofing paper. These newer plastic papers look like traditional photographs, yet lack the tactile sense that my prints on cotton had.
In amongst all of this I returned to my roots as a traditional printmaker. I was trained as a fine art lithographer at art school, and had been etching on the side since starting. Lithography was my minor while photography was my major. I would have pursued etching more vigorously if I hadn't disliked my teacher so much. Mind you the subtly of drawing on a lithographic stone is sublime. Such an experience, I am so lucky to have been able to experience it and produce some beautiful editions in the process.
Delving into photogravure was an easy step. Starting with polymer plates (solar plates) and dabbling in traditional copper plate. On my agenda is setting up a printmaking studio with an intaglio press and a non toxic work flow. It has been rather disheartening to find out about the demise of traditional stone lithography in Australia and around the world. Not surprising really considering how many practitioners died of leukaemia / cancer due to the highly toxic chemicals. I lost my teacher to leukaemia while she taught us at art school. In one semester she went from what appeared to be strong and healthy to a thin hollow shell to passing.. So so quick. So so sad.
Now my workflow is simpler. Usually a digital capture, though sometimes a film capture then scan to digital. I love to work with a small mirror less camera with a digital viewfinder. It is set to black and white (sepia actually as I find it easier on my eyes) and shoot raw. I can see and preview what I am doing in black and white yet still have all of the colour information at hand to utilise when processing. I love to use a cheaper consumer aimed camera rather than a high end professional model and spend my money on superior prime lenses. My legs make better zooms and changing lenses is way sharper than most zooms. Besides I know my lenses enough that I can I don't have to think about their perspective before I bring them up to my eye.
On import into Lightroom I use my own presets. I have a few, mostly with subtle changes to micro / mid tone contrast and overall sharpening, applying an orange filter in my own beautiful curve and the application of my sepia tones. Later, I can play with the colour conversion. Sometimes the image gets tweaked in Nik Silver efx; structure controls are superior to photoshop or Lightroom, and the vignette and edge darkening is simplified.
I then print it out on my inkjet printer. But I long to be able to hand print them on my own intaglio press, getting my hands covered in ink and hand pulling each print. One day soon I am sure.