Photographer Exemplifies Sophistication in Fine Art Printing

Tony Bonanno's prints tie together art and technology.

We’re hearing more and more often that, with the capabilities of today’s digital printing technology, almost anyone can produce a passable graphic. Fine art printing, however, may be one of the few niches left where a keen eye makes an enormous difference.

Tony Bonanno is a New Mexico-based photographer who’s spent the last 15 years taking his knowledge of the art of photography and applying it to the art of digital imaging – a specialty that has grown increasingly reputable.

“Fine art digital printing has evolved to a very sophisticated level,” Bonanno says. “Some galleries still specialize in ‘silver’ prints, but much of the fine art market has recognized the legitimacy of digital print media.”

This is due largely to leaps and bounds made in the technology, from paper and ink quality to machine consistency to the image-processing software itself. “All have improved immensely,” he says. “Papers and inks have much less metamerism (changing color cast with different light sources), gloss differential, and bronzing.” He adds that the most significant impact has been in the area of black-and-white photography: “Ink sets, which include several blacks and grays, have resulted in high-quality black-and-white reproduction.”

Bonanno uses a 24-inch Canon iPF6400 and a 44-inch Canon iPF8400, as well as a small-format Epson 3880. He stocks the bulk of his fine art materials from Red River Paper, with UltraPro, Aurora Fine Art Natural, San Gabriel Semi-Gloss Baryta, and Palo Duro SoftGloss Rag among his clients’ favorites.

But no advancements in nozzle clogging or tonal range can replace an artist’s intention. Composition, color, tone, contrast, luminosity, black levels, transitions – they all must be carefully considered to maintain the photographer’s vision.

“Creating high-quality fine art prints, in my opinion, is a collaborative process between the photographer and the printer,” Bonanno says. “I do not print for a client unless they’re willing to spend time with me in the studio preparing the file.”

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