Rekindling a passion for printing
© Richard Walch
Presenting his clients with prints has always been a key part of the process for award-winning action photographer Richard Walch. But as CPN writer Mark Alexander finds out, the process has just got a lot simpler thanks to the imagePROGRAF PRO-1000...
Richard Walch has enjoyed a remarkable career, which has taken him from the outstanding beauty of Iceland to the perils of the America’s Cup. His impressive skill set has created a body of work that is both bold and effective with big-name brands queuing up to work with him. His ability to capture a moment that encapsulates a story is deeply impressive and has earned him a stellar reputation for getting the shot.
But for all his skills, Walch has suffered a love-hate relationship with a key element of the photographic journey – the fine art of printing. Indeed, until recently, despite taking great pleasure in presenting his clients with prints, he has found the job of creating them arduous. Demanding even.
“I hated it,” says the award-winning German photographer. “It was always such a fight with the printer, which was mainly due to the software interface. Because I don’t print every day, I had to go through the process every time, which wasn’t pleasant. Now it is completely different.”
A new approach
Walch’s appreciation of printing was transformed when he was introduced to Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which is designed to produce photographs up to A2 in size. This ingenious desktop printer is intended for photographers who want to produce professional grade colour and monochrome prints using a 12-ink system. More important for Walch, the 3.0” display and Print Studio Pro plugin, which enables printing straight from Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Canon Digital Photo Professional, makes printing hassle-free.
“When I got the PRO-1000, I opened the box and within half an hour I had the first print in my hand,” says Walch. “I was stoked. It was a game-changer. If you use the Canon ink, the Canon paper and the Canon printer, then you just go. And it works.”
Walch, who is known for his vibrant images captured both on land and at sea, admits his relationship with his old printer was at best strained but a necessary part of his business. “The print side of my business wasn’t big, but it was very important,” he explains. “When a client has hired me to do a big shoot, I like to give them a print when everything is finished. Through that print, I am able to stay in his office wall, which means I am visible to him 365 days a year. I use it for that reason and now for exhibitions. That all started with this new printer, because it is so enjoyable to use.”
As well as offering wireless communication, the PRO-1000 utilises the updated Print Studio Pro plug-in, which features a new screen layout that makes it easy to adjust the printer, paper, layout and colour settings. What’s more, it can also be incorporated seamlessly into your existing workflow.
“A lot of people use Lightroom to print, and in there you can choose whether you have full bleed or apply a frame,” says Walch. “If you want to get really technical, you can get the correct paper profile which I would recommend. Include that into the printing software and you’ll get even better results. So it is scalable. You can plug-and-play and boom there’s your print, or you can go deep into to it and get the maximum out of it. You can grow with the process.”
According to Walch, the ability to choose which level to operate the printer at not only makes it easy to use but also breeds confidence. “When you go on a journey and your first experience is bad, you might not be inclined to continue. But with this printer, the first experience has been good and that invites you to explore more and more.”
Freedom to experiment
The facility to tailor the printer has meant Walch has experimented like never before. Choosing paper, for instance, has given him more control over the process, which in turn gives him the opportunity to personalise his prints.
“With this printer, I have experimented with different papers,” he says. “For instance, I could look for a really nice paper to go with a particular project. This printer opens the door to put a lot of handcraft into the image, so you’re giving your client more than just a photograph; you’re giving them a complete piece and that makes it more unique, rather than sending it off to an online lab. It is more special to put more thought into your print. To do that you need to go through the process and to do that you need a good printer.”
But the PRO-1000 is more than just an easy-to-use piece of kit that supports a range of media, such as matte, gloss and fine art papers. It also faithfully reproduces images by way of a new 12-ink pigment based system that is both accurate and practical.
“This printer has significantly larger ink cartridges,” says Walch. “For a professional photographer, it is the perfect mix. You don’t want to go for the biggest printer in the line-up because you will have to print 24 hours a day to make it work. This one is still big enough to use pro ink, which gives it a great finish, and you don’t have to change the cartridge that often.”
More crucially, the prints have a vibrancy that helps bring the images to life. “You can see a difference in the level of detail and in the blacks.” In April 2015, Walch was on location in Alaska shooting skiers in extreme conditions. From the resulting images, he created prints on numerous occasions, but printed them again on the PRO-1000 using his favourite paper - Hahnemühle fine art stock.
“There are a lot of whites and blues in these pictures. I created the prints on the PRO-1000 and they look a lot more like Alaska. The texture feels like snow. The image is more beautiful. I gave away a print as a present and there was a big smile on the other side,” he says.
He continues: “I have printed these pictures before for an exhibition and have seen them on a range of canvasses, but the most beautiful they have looked is on Hahnemühle A3 paper with a white border from the PRO-1000. They looked really nice.”
The level of detail made possible by the PRO-1000 also ties in with the increased megapixel count Walch now enjoys with his new EOS 5D Mark IV. He says the logical conclusion to a number of recent kitbag upgrades is encompassed in his new printer. “Now I am shooting with a camera that can shoot 30 Megapixels, so there is a lot more detail and quality in the file. You need to work with a printer that can work with that detail and put it on paper. A couple of years ago, the bar was raised in every aspect – in the lenses, in the sensor, in the camera – and now it has been raised in the printer. The printer is the last in that workflow line, so if it doesn’t match everything that has come before, it won’t make much sense.”
Most recently, Walch took part in Canon’s #selfieless campaign when he accompanied a group of children to a zoo in Augsburg, Germany. He gave each child a print from the shoot. “We invited some kids to go to an animal park. We gave them LED-powered lanterns and then afterwards gave them prints. I produced the prints on the PRO-1000 and experimented with the paper and the frame. It was a fun day.”
Taking control of his prints has given Walch a new outlook on life on paper. Indeed, the ability to create prints for specific clients and projects has revived his love for the medium. “It brings the fun back,” he says. “It has set me on a journey to experiment with papers. The printer sits in the corner of my office and says to me ‘you can’t stop just because you’ve taken a picture’.”
imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 – KEY FEATURES
- Exceptional quality A2 prints in approximately 6 minutes
- 3.0” display for at-a–glance printing and supplies status
- High-speed USB 2.0, WiFi, Cloud and Ethernet connectivity
- LUCIA PRO pigment inks for exceptional colour reproduction and longevity
- Canon Digital Lens Optimiser for optimum print image quality
- Contrast Reproduction technology for finer detail in prints
- Print Studio Pro plugin for seamless printing straight from Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop (including PS Elements) and Canon Digital Photo Professional
- Exclusive MBk and PBk nozzles prevent wasting of ink and time needed switching black inks in other printers
- Large capacity ink tanks reduce the frequency of ink changes
Biography: Richard Walch
© Richard Walch
German photographer Richard Walch started out his photographic career shooting snowboarding and skiing. He has since expanded that brief to incorporate dramatic action shots of numerous sports for a broad range of clients. He began his career as a professional photographer in 1991 shooting with an EOS-1N film SLR for magazines. He diversified from stills into shooting HD movie projects, including TV adverts and commercial projects, in 2008. Throughout he has shot with Canon professional equipment and became a Canon Ambassador in 2012.