What Goes Into a Marty Knapp Fine Art Print?

I’ve been making photographic artworks for fifty years. During my transition from darkroom silver gelatin printing to today’s digital pigment printing process, I have continued to use the finest materials available and exacting craftsmanship to insure the beauty and longevity of your print.

The Materials: The beauty of the print is paramount. I use the finest pigment inks, papers and matting available to express in  my prints what I saw and felt when I recorded the original image.
Longevity of the Print: I insist that my prints are not only beautifully expressive, but that they will keep their luminous presence without fading or discoloring. The processes and materials that I use guarantee their archival quality.

I started printing in the early 1980s in the classic wet darkroom. The gelatin silver prints I made then were processed using best practices to create luminous prints that would last for generations. The process was fastidious in order to make the finest and most enduring photographic prints possible at that time.

As digital printing became available I waited patiently on the sidelines to see if expressive monochrome prints with the essential archival quality I sought could be produced. In 2010 a friend proved to me that I need not wait any longer. From scans of my original negatives he made several prints on his professional Epson printer. These prints were a revelation. They were truly neutral in color without the objectionable magenta or cyan casts I had seen in earlier inkjet prints. As I looked at these new pigment prints I realized they equaled and in some cases exceeded the quality of the silver prints I had been making!

I was excited and anxious to begin the process of learning the new technology. As I trained myself, I researched to find out what data supported the longevity factor of my new materials. I was pleased to discover that using Epson’s Ultrachrome K3 inks on acid-free fine art cotton papers, the archival quality of the new prints could equal the selenium-toned gelatin silver prints I had made up to then. Armed with the visual experience of the beautiful tonal appearance plus knowledge of the archival qualities, I was all in!

Epson’s K3 Ultrachrome pigment-based inks rely on three levels of black to create the continuous tones we love in our photographs. Trace amounts of color are added to create the slightly warm tones I favor in my prints. There are no brighteners in the cotton papers I use which ensures no fading, yellowing or color shifts that can occur with less expensive paper and ink.

A word to the wise…
I recommend that anyone considering the purchase of any photograph ask the artist what kind of ink and papers are being used. If they can’t verify they are using the highest quality materials or they simply don’t know, be wary! Much of what is being sold as “art” is being produced with lesser materials which can lead to disappointment in the long run as the cherished image fades or discolors with time.

Today, after more than 10 years of printing with pigment-imbued inks on the finest paper, I am convinced that the new prints I make today are more beautiful than my original silver prints. The degree of tonal control and the subtle expression of these tones are exciting for me and my collectors. Add to this the assurance that these prints will retain their beauty as they are passed down through several generations and we all win.

The same care to the matting and framing of these prints is given as takes place in the actual printing. Once the print is made, it is cured for about 12-24 hours to allow the pigments to settle into the paper’s surface. Next, a mat with a beveled window is cut from acid-free cotton rag matboard. The window is offset a few millimeters to reveal the full composition, the number and signature in the margin. Next, the matted print goes into a black wood frame glazed with Tru-vue Ultraview glass (truly anti-reflective and UV protected glass). A paper back with wire finishes the artwork. The numbered editions are accompanied with a certificate on the back which details size, reference number, title and date the original image was created.

When you select a Marty Knapp photograph, whether it is an intimately presented miniature or a larger dramatic edition for your wall, you can be assured that the finest materials and attention to detail have gone into your artwork. Your photograph will last for generations without losing any of its original beauty. I personally print, mat and frame every photograph that leaves my studio to assure this singular quality.

When the artwork is finished, you will have an enduring piece of beauty that reflects what I saw and felt during the original exposure. Every signed Marty Knapp photograph has been conceived by me and created from my own hands.


Shooting The Light Fantastic

An infrared (IR) landscape image offers us a view into another world—a dreamlike vista full of radiant light and glowing imagery. Sunlit green foliage becomes nearly white as though radiating light from within. Blue skies and tree branches darken supernaturally, creating a dynamic tonal counterpoint to the bright foliage. The magical qualities expressed in IR photographs have drawn me to increasingly use this medium. Nothing conveys the amazing essence of spring in monochrome photography better than IR capture. It’s able to express the joy felt, the visceral, into a visual equivalent. Judging by comments and results we receive in the gallery, IR prints are among the most compelling and collected images we show.

About the Photographs Shown Here
Over the last few springs I wandered among the coastal hills near my home searching for newly-leafing, iconic trees to photograph in IR. I wanted to capture the glow of life emerging and reveal the beauty of creation. Shown here are some of the best compositions I was fortunate to create. Each is linked to a catalog page where you can order prints of varying sizes. You can also see a larger group at my Infrared Trees Collection.

What is Infrared Light?

Infrared is an electromagnetic frequency. It is light, but light just beyond what we humans can see. Visible light lies between ultraviolet (UV) and IR light at each end. Although some animals and insects can see into the UV or IR spectrum. we do not. Imagine that we have filters on our vision that block the IR light at one end and UV light at the other, leaving us able to see only light in the visible light spectrum. In fact that is exactly what the digital sensors in our cameras do!

Digital Sensors and Camera Conversions

Digital sensors, when manufactured, are capable of recording beyond the visible into both the UV and IR spectrum. The sensors are modified via an overlaying filter that blocks off the UV and IR light so they only record visible light. However, by removing and replacing that filter with one that blocks UV and most visible light the camera is modified to photograph primarily IR light! That change is done inside the camera by skilled technicians. I have had three different cameras changed out in this manner and have used each to successfully make my IR photographs.

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Beginnings: 50th Anniversary of Photography at Point Reyes

This year marks the 50th anniversary of my arrival in Point Reyes. It also marks 50 years since I developed my first rolls of film. I have fond memories of creating the first prints from these negatives. The images illustrating this post are from those first self-developed rolls. Back then I almost exclusively photographed my friends. These photographs are all from the autumn months of 1973.

Brass Menagerie workers enjoy hanging out together.

In the autumn of 1973 the company I worked for, the Brass Menagerie, relocated from San Francisco to Point Reyes Station. We were a small manufacturer of brass and wood novelty items. The old Creamery Building in downtown Point Reyes was available and suitable for our business. The company purchased the abandoned creamery. Getting out of the city and into the natural beauty of coastal West Marin was a dream for all of us. Many of us left the city and collectively found places to rent in this area. I was one of several managers of the business, but in my spare time I often dreamt of becoming a photographer.

Friends: Kingsley Moore and Carol Whitman at work. Peggy Day and daughter during visit.

 I carried my camera with me everywhere and pretty much pointed my lens at my friends. I had not yet discovered the landscape and becoming an artist was unthinkable. Then something happened one day that was life changing. A door opened that led to a life-long journey into creative photography and art. My neighbor, Marie, asked me a simple question. “Who develops your film and makes your prints?” Naively, thinking the answer obvious, I answered, “I drop the films off at Photomat and pick up the results in a couple of days, doesn’t everyone?”  I noticed as we talked that Marie was tending a garden hose that trickled into a stainless steel container. She looked down at it and fished a reel out of the tank. On the reel was a roll of wet film! Marie looked up and said, “I develop my own film. I’m going to hang this one up to dry. Would you like to learn how to do your own films?” With that offer, I was off to the races!

Caty and her children, Zohra and John.

Within a week and after a few of Marie’s film developing lessons, I heard that a neighbor was selling his complete darkroom set up for $75. I tapped my savings and rushed out to secure the equipment. I never turned back and over they years I built several darkrooms, each one more advanced. From that time on, some fifty years ago, I developed tens of thousands of negatives–every exposure of black and white film I made I also personally developed.

Last night, I went deep into my archive of negatives and found the first rolls I self-developed in 1973. There was nary a landscape in the bunch, but lots of photographs of my friends. I’ve gathered a few of my favorites here for this post.   We were oh, so young and smooth-skinned then! Fifty years ago I came to Point Reyes and took the first important steps to becoming a photographer.

My friends: Betsy, Kallie and Rick.