Tech Talk

All photographs are created equal.

Oh, really?

Countless employees who live with Wayne Hill's photographs in their offices and conference rooms have commented, "there's something very special about his art.  It does not look like a photograph, rather it looks so sharp it could be a window to the national park or destination."  Just as a symphony orchestra brings together talent, instruments, many years of training and practice, Wayne's life of making images belies the years of learning, the investment in the best equipment, the considerable physical effort, and ultimately the trained eye and experienced judgement of the artist.

Change has become a constant in our world, due to accelerating advances in technology, and specifically in photography.  Wayne has resisted jumping on the digital bandwagon, although it is inevitable that this revolution will continue to produce remarkable equipment for creating and reproducing fine art images.

The starting point for nearly all of Wayne's fine art photographs has been a fine negative (remember film?).  He has used primarily large-format equipment with superb optics to produce the best possible negatives for enlargement.

What equipment does Wayne use?


When he was a still an undergrad at Dartmouth, Wayne acquired his first professional-quality camera, a Leicaflex 35mm system, which he used to master the basics of lighting, composition and darkroom skills.  His Leicas were superb in quality but he soon felt they yielded too small a negative for his vision of large enlargements.

He learned 4x5 view camera technique while at Dartmouth working forAdrian Bouchard and then John Doscher, loading countless film holders with single sheets of film to be exposed and then developed.   Wayne's time working for Ansel Adams in Yosemite made him a true believer in the value of using large and medium format cameras,  nearly always anchored by tripods.

Wayne worked with Linhof 4x5  cameras for many years, with their magnificent Schneider lenses. Soon after completing his internship in Yosemite, Wayne purchased the first of several Hasselblad cameras, which used Zeiss lenses and 120 film to produce 6x6cm negatives.  He later shifted to Pentax 6x7 and 6x17 cameras, to deliver larger images on the same 120 film.  In recent years, his favorite camera has been the Linhof 6x12 Panoramic system, which has an ideal 2:1 ratio, uses 120 film and marvelous Schneider optics.

Lenses and filters: 

Wayne has used many lenses, most of which were Zeiss, Schneider or Leitz - all fixed-focal length rather than zoom lenses.  Every lens has a permanent UV filter to protect the lens elements, and may be supplemented by a Polarizing filter.  No other color filters or graduated neutral density filters have been used to create Wayne's negatives.


 Wayne felt for many years that he single-handedly supported the Gitzo tripod company, having owned seven.  He actually developed tendonitis from carrying a 35-pound Gitzo tripod with the large Linhof 4x5 on top (his doc tactfully diagnosed it as "tripoditis" and said there was no known cure).  He began using a tripod to stabilize the camera during long exposures, yet found it equally helpful to anchor the camera position while he evaluated alternative camera placement.


Wayne has always used negative film, which he feels has been more responsive than transparencies.  For 30 years, he used low-speed Kodak film, and in recent years has shifted to low-speed Fuji film.  Previously, Wayne would print directly from those negatives to yield photographs.  In the last few years, as the digital printing technology has matured, he has scanned each negative to create a high-resolution digital file (usually over 250 megabytes in size), from which the final enlargement is produced.

Film vs. Digital

The photographic world has shifted into digital at an accelerating pace.  Technological advances in memory cards, digital processing programs like Adobe Photoshop, and high-resolution digital printers are happening daily.   With every client now comfortable with his/her own digital camera, it is helpful to review the distinctions between film and digital. 

Wayne has retained thousands of film negatives made over his 40+ years as a photographic artist.  By scanning a negative, he can generate a digital file up to 500 MB, from which his enlargements are printed.  No digital camera can currently come even close to recording this density of information. Wayne can easily use a negative he created more than 30 years ago - what storage media did the digital world rely on even 20 years ago?  As digital cameras become more sophisicated and their memory capacity improves, Wayne will likely begin making fine art images from future digital cameras.  Nearly every image currently available in this on-line gallery began life as a negative.

How are his enlargements produced?

Each of the negatives selected by the artist for enlargement then undergoes a high-resolution digital scan, to produce a superb digital megafile (usually larger than 250M).  Once the megafile has been carefully produced, the enlargements are produced by state-of-the-art Epson high-resolution printers.

Our current printer is the highly respected Epson Stylus Pro 9600.  It is the industry leader, primarily because of the renowned UltraChrome archival pigment inks that are used to render each giclée print.  Here you see the artist coaxing a gorgeous print out of the printer.  The substrates on which the enlargement is produced can be either a fine art paper (used by watercolor artists) or a fine linen canvas (used by artists who paint with oils).

What in the world is a "Giclée"?

Simply put, a digital print is made by a printer that inputs a digital file and delivers an image onto paper or canvas.  The high-resolution digital prints are called giclée prints (pronounced "zhee-clay").  Giclée is a French word that means "to spray" - an accurate  description of what an ink-jet printer actually does.

Wayne places a high priority on the long-lasting print life of the Epson pigment inks, which have become the industry standard for highest resolution and color saturation.  These pigments offer vibrant image quality with the versatility to extract the maximum image quality.

Would you like paper or canvas?

You may order a HILL photograph to be produced either on fine art paper or on artist's canvas.  Wayne has chosen these two distinctive substrates on which his images are produced. 

Watercolor paper lends a softer look to photographs.  The ink bleeds slightly - creating softer edges and a painterly feel to the image. 

An appealing alternative is to print the image on canvas, enhancing this artistic expression, and creating an attractive hybrid between photography and painting.  

There are dozens of paper and canvas choices available for giclée printing.  Wayne has selected two that have the highest archival ratings, each of which renders his photographs as he envisions, and have earned raves from discriminating clients.

The paper choice is Epson 15 mil Fine Art Paper, which is acid-free, 100% cotton rag fine art paper with the look and feel of Old World handmade papers.  It has a slight textured finish, similar to the papers preferred by many watercolor artists.

The canvas choice is Epson Premier Art Water-Resistant Canvas, which is a 19 mil canvas made from a durable blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton.  This heavyweight canvas utilizes a tight weave for ideal photographic fine art reproduction.

Either of these alternatives will last many times longer than a traditional color photograph because the archival characteristics of the Epson Professional UltraChrome Pigment inks are formulated to endure over a life span that rivals our own.  Pigment inks on acid-free papers and canvases have been tested to endure unchanged for 60 to 200 years (now, which of us will be around to check on that?).