Book Review: The Printed Picture

Just picture it

The Printed Picture may become the standard reference for anyone interested in the history of image creation either as a single copy or in millions. Richard Benson (I'm not related) is to be congratulated in writing about a quite technical subject in a very lucid and accessible way.

The Product Description above will give you an idea about the book's scope. One of the fascinating insights that will intrigue you is that color printing is easier to do than printing in black. This interested me because I buy a lot of black and white photo art books and the problem is that one pass of black printing really can't realistically reproduce all the tonal values of a photo. The solution is to use black and one other ink, usually a grey to capture the lighter areas in a photo. The several hundred illustrations throughout the book show the continuing attempts, over the decades, to reproduce images as faithfully as possible and in multiple copies.

The book is bang up to date with comprehensive sections on color copiers, inkjet printing and scanner technology. The section on Indigo printing might be the way of the future because the technology allows a limited number of copies to be printed and in good quality, too.

I think it is worth mentioning, as another reviewer has, the quality of the writing. It is based on Benson's lectures, over the years, at Yale University and comes across in an easy conversational style that is a joy to read. As well as the writing he also designed the book. It is, as you would expect, beautifully printed on matt art stock with a 250+ screen.

If you work in graphic arts or are just image curious The Printed Picture will explain the background to something that is a big part of everyday life.

The Printed Picture is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

The Printed Picture - 01
Pantograph etchings.

The Printed Picture - 02
Color separations.

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Woodcut printing.

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Early inkjet printers.

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Blueprints.

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Cannon color copier.

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Stencil color.

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I found these photos quite fascinating, two editions of Frank's 'The Americans', left: the French gravure (1958) and right: the American litho (1969) edition. Ordinary one pass litho cannot really do justice to quality black and white art photography.

The Printed Picture - 09
Letterpress halftone.

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Indigo printer.

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Offset duotone and tritone.

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From the Introduction.

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Color calibration.

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Newspaper rotogravure.

The Printed Picture - 15
Title spread. As the book deals with image presentaion on paper it is printed on 100lb Value Silk with a 250+ screen. Needless to say the book's production is flawless.

The Printed Picture - 16
Cape Cod´s detail

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