The first permanent photograph was produced in 1826 and since then photography has revolutionized the art world. Photographs are often used to capture an image that would later be used as a basis for a finished painting or drawing. Over time, however, photography has become an art form unto itself. Though black and white photography is considered to be traditional and often utilized in art, color images have also come to be well respected. Increasinly in the 21st Century, color imagery is handled with disital photography which offers the opportunity to enhance or adjust the image on the computer. Nevertheless, black and white photography remains a favorite of many artists who utilize traditional printing styles.
When printing from a negative, the artist works mainly in the dark room. The film must first be processed and fixed with chemical compounds in order to print the image on the negative and fix it so that the light sensitive materials will no longer be affected. After completing this process, the negative is transfer to a light sensitive paper through the use of an enlarger. The latent image produced must be developed through a multi step chemical immersion process. This includes developing the image, stopping the development, fixing the image to negate the light sensitive agents of the paper, and finally, washing the chemicals of the image. Once the image is dry, the work is complete.
Though these traditional analog techniques do not allow for as much experimenting and enhancement, the artist does have the opportunity to experiment with the image throughout the process, whether it is with chemical compounds or exposure times.
Digital photography has greatly evolved over recent years to become a highly credited print form for photographs. Not only has the printing process been greatly altered, by the act of shooting "film" has necessarily been modified. An artist, in determining the frame and composition of a photograph has immediate gratification in being able to view the image captured in a matter of seconds. Unwanted images are erased as quickly as they appeared, while only the favorable shots are saved. This, in turn, affects a printing process that has been entirely removed from the dark room.
The next option in digital photography occurs in the altering of the pictures on the computer. Through image editing software, an artist may change the colors, contrast, and definition of any image as well as being able to further crop the frame.
The final step in the digital process is the printing. Not only has the art form been taken out of the dark room, but it is now printed for you through the use high quality digital printers. Currently, the most technically adept printers are the Iris printer, the Giclèe (pronounced "zhee-clay"- a French word meaning "that which is sprayed"), and the Epson printers. These printers are unlike the standard ink-jet printers which reside in most homes and offices. Digital art printers use the highest quality ink. On the market today are inks that are made to last without fading for 30-60 years and some even for 75 years. The tonal range has evolved greatly to produce a wide range of highly saturated and accurate colors. Most printers also operate using 6 stable pigments as opposed to the traditional 4 dyes, adding to the quality of color. Pigments may also be relied upon to resist fading much longer than standard dyes are able to. The image can be printed on any material but are most often seen on photography paper, watercolor paper, or a cotton paper.