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Thursday, 09 October 2008


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This is fascinating, many thanks for explaining this technique. I've read much of what Mike J. has written about you and your dye transfer process, but it's always been like voodoo to me. Some pictures of the actual process might be neat to look at.

Thanks for the explaining the dye transfer process. Also many thanks for the opportunity to get dye transfer prints at a most reasonable price. It would seem that given the variables in the process each print will be slightly different from the others.
Looking orward to receiving mine.
Question do you recommend framing under glass?

The Luminous Landscape Video Journal #11 contains "a 45 minute feature shot in Ctein's darkroom showing the complete process of making the photographic world's most beautiful colour prints."


The preview videos for #11 include brief selections from both the Ctein interview and demonstration segments.

I have #11 and I thoroughly enjoyed both the interview with Ctein and the segment in which Ctein demonstrates how to create a dye transfer print.


I second Tony's motion. Some picture of The Man at work (and of the matrices) would be much appreciated!


Are the materials to do this still available?

Dear Bob,

You'd be surprised how consistant a skilled printer can make dye transfer prints. Remember that this was primarily a commercial process!

Unless I mess up a set of matrices and have to go back and remake them (I'm sure going to try to avoid that), there will be little-to-zero visible print-print variation.

Yeah, frame behind glass (or plexi, doesn't matter), matte board spacer between the print and glass. Use acid-free, NON-BUFFERED materials in front or back contct with the print. When in frame them, I back them with a sheet of aluminum foil! Impermeable, inert, cheap. Then I can use anything I want for the rear stiffener in the frame.

pax / Ctein

Dear Tom,

There's a cottage industry making dye transfer materials for personal use. Efke did one run of matrix film some years back; it's all gone. Most of us are printing off of supplies we stockpiled when Kodak killed the process. I'm kinda amazed we haven't run out.I am definitely amazed that there are even four or five of us left in the world who will take on printing jobs for others.

Like carbro/carbon printing, it's entirely possible that personal (not commercial) dye transfer printing will continue as a very exclusive craft, practiced by a handful of lunatics, indefinitely.

pax / Ctein

"When in frame them, I back them with a sheet of aluminum foil! Impermeable, inert, cheap."

No, no! That's "< 0.2mm alu-foil barrier sheet, manufactured to extremely high tolerances by Reynolds Corporation."


Mike J.

No question, inkjet prints done right can look very beautiful. I've seen lots of bad ones but I've seen some stunning ones, too. Heck, I've MADE some stunning ones.

Mike J.

Dear Mike,

I think your comment to Bill goes to the other thread, but regardless, I agree with you.

I've written at length, here and elsewhere, about how good digital printing can be. I sell digital prints. I've pointed out often how many of my photos print BETTER as digital prints than as dye transfers (and vice versa).

And folks who insist upon comparing the two would be like insisting on comparing a watercolor to a oil painting. Apples, meet oranges-- which tastes best?

pax / Ctein

...And anyway, it's not a competition.

Mike J.

"0.2mm alu-foil barrier sheet, manufactured to extremely high tolerances by Reynolds Corporation"


Glad to see you not eschewing obsfucation for the purposes of revenue enhancement.


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