Magazine Article


Digital Output

©Richard Ehrlich

Richard Ehrlich's photographs are his "personal observations." His signature images are represented by prestigious galleries and have been shown in museums around the world. Here is his 5-Step technique for fine-art inkjet success.

1. Choose the Right Tools For Each Project

Ehrlich's images are processed carefully from capture to print, and he recommends planning ahead with the final print in mind. ';I generally choose my cameras based on subject matter," he says. ';For example, many of the images from the Namibia sand houses series (framed image, p.14) were shot with the Hasselblad XPan camera, Hasselblad f5.6/30, f4/45 and f4/90mm lenses, and Kodak Ektachrome VS100 35mm film. The XPan produces a magnificent 24x65mm panoramic image that is tack sharp from edge to edge, even when printed six feet in width or more."

For his Graffiti series, shot in downtown Los Angeles, Ehrlich wanted as much detail as possible, and his Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II 16.7-megapixel DSLR with Canon's 16-35mm f/2.8L and 24-70mm f/2.8L lenses were perfect: ';This was the first series I shot with the camera, and after returning to my studio, I processed a few of the RAW files and could not believe the beautiful color and level of detail I was seeing. I then made a few 30x40 inch prints and I was speechless at the color range, sharpness and 3D appearance that the prints conveyed."

©Richard Ehrlich

Ehrlich's ';Homage to Rothko: Malibu Skies" series , which he shares credit for with R. Mac Holbert of Nash Editions, was ';inspired by the incredible light of Southern California," he says. ';Although I photographed the scenes, Mac and I worked together to complete a series of 34 images that paid respect to [Mark] Rothko's vision. I used a Canon EOS-1Ds with Canon's 16-35mm f/2.8L and Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L lenses, which are a fantastic combination." Ehrlich also credits Ming Tshing from Nash Editions for playing a major role in all his printmaking projects.

2. Scan or Process Files Wisely

Every film image destined for print from Ehrlich's collection was scanned by Nash Editions on a Creo/Scitex EverSmart Supreme flatbed scanner at approximately 200MB in 16-bit color. Says Ehrlich: ';Hi-quality scans are critical, and time and money can be saved by making sure scanning is done right from the beginning." All of his digital camera RAW file processing utilizes Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), and his black & white toning is done with the ';Toned Photos" plug-in ( Sharpening on digital camera files is done with Photoshop's Unsharp Mask as well as a technique that employs Photoshop's High Pass filter.

©Richard Ehrlich 3. Choose Your Printer, Paper & Workflow

Ehrlich continues: ';I suggest people either find a qualified company to make prints for them, or learn to make their own prints through books, workshops, seminars or individual consultations. A good starting point is Epson's Online Experience (, which features step by step advice from many experts, including Mac Holbert."

Ehrlich's printer of choice is the Epson Stylus Pro 9600, equipped with the seven-color UltraChrome ink set. ';There are a number of excellent printers on the market for fine-art printing, and I recommend researching as many as possible," he notes. ';The 9600's 44'' width, output quality, reliability, longevity ratings and price made it the perfect choice for my studio, and from my research, the 24'', 17'' and 13'' width 7600, 4000 and 2200 printers are equally impressive. Check for a wealth of info related to longevity testing and different printer and ink technologies."

©Richard Ehrlich

Ehrlich doesn't settle on just one paper."I am always looking to experiment with different surfaces, as long as they are acid-free," he says."My Namibia images are printed on Somerset Velvet Enhanced, a paper with a beautiful surface and slight texture. The Graffiti and Rothko series of images are printed on Epson UltraSmooth Fine Art 500gsm, a smooth and thick media that holds excellent sharpness and detail, and a series photographed in Vietnam is printed on Arches Infinity Smooth 355gsm, a slightly off-white heavyweight coated paper with an almost tactile appearance. I recommend testing different papers by purchasing sample packs and also investigating options by visiting exhibitions and trade shows."

Calibration and color management is also vital."In order to keep your prints looking consistent from day to day, it is critical to make sure that your machine's nozzle patterns are clean and inkjet printheads are kept aligned by running a head alignment if any problems are detected. Most of my work is printed using the Enhanced Matte 1440dpi profiles by Bill Atkinson, available at I then print with the Enhanced Matte paper setting, 1440dpi and high speed unchecked in the print menu. Epson, Arches and other companies have downloadable profiles on their websites, and I will sometimes use custom made profiles from Nash Editions which were produced with GretagMacbeth's Eye-One Pro hardware and ProfileMaker 5 software."

4. Protect and Transport

For shipping his large prints (up to 35x47 inch sheets), Ehrlich had a custom case made by Samy's Camera in Los Angeles ( and he carefully interleaves his prints. He explains:"Based on Mac Holbert's recommendations, I use an interleaving material called 'Pellon,' which is an acid-free spun polyester available in some fabric stores. Ask for the non-adhesive version. I also recommend a thin, paper-based material called Archivart Photo-Tex Tissue (

It is important to use the right thickness of foam to fill the space when packing, and you can purchase multiple sheets of foam to stack up for a tight fit. This allows me to transport the case easily by SUV anywhere. For shipping to galleries or museums, I use a thinner case from Light Impressions, with enough foam to keep everything tight inside the package. All framing is done either by the individual galleries or by the collectors who purchase prints.

"I have always dreamed of showing my work on watercolor paper without any glass or plexi," he adds."I'm excited about Premier Imaging Products' new series of non-toxic coatings ( In the near future, I look forward to delivering work to clients that can be framed and hung in a way similar to a work on canvas."

5. Show Your Work & Start Selling

"If you want to go the traditional gallery route, I recommend starting with a portfolio of 8-15 prints with images that are connected in some way," suggests Ehrlich."Size is not a critical factor, but 16x20 to 30x40 inch prints are a good size range for most venues.

Visit galleries and speak with gallery directors, then ask for an in-person appointment. Create an online presence; many people direct visitors to their exhibitions and galleries, and some sell directly to collectors thanks to the Internet. Museums are a wonderful place for getting your work seen, and you should treat them just like a gallery. Cities across the country have museums with different themes and areas of focus, which can make entry much easier if your work fits their mission." DIT