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What is Piezography?

Piezography is a system of ink, refillable ink cartridges, software, and paper designed for printing fine quality black & white images using a selected range of repurposed Epson printers. The system replaces Epson’s standard inks and color management print driver for printing black and white pictures known as Advanced Black and White (ABW). Piezography dramatically outperforms ABW and pushes Epson Printers to make prints with higher resolution and exceptional tonal range.

Developed by Jon Cone, (along with his team of eight artists, printers, and programmers, Cone Editions Press, Inc., East Topsham, VT), specially formulated encapsulated carbon pigment inks in six or seven shades are loaded in specially designed refillable cartridges replacing Epson’s native 8, 9, or 11-color ink systems. One ink cartridge holds a clear coating called Gloss Optimizer (GO) that is usually applied in a separate pass of the print through the printer. GO eliminates bronzing and finishes the image when printing on glossy baryta paper.

Piezography Delivers Dense Blacks and High Resolution

When properly managed, Piezography prints closely approximate the long tonal range of continuous tone silver gelatin photos processed in a darkroom.

Studio LaRivière Printers
My Twin Epson Stylus Pro 7880s with Cone Color and Piezography Inks

Inkjet Mall, the online distributor for all Vermont PhotInkJet products, offers two kinds of fine art quality inkjet coated paper: matte finish (Type2) and baryta finish (Type5) in a variety of weights, trim sizes, and rolls that work with Epson printers. However, media profiles for many other papers from major inkjet paper manufacturers such as Canon, Epson, Moab, and Hahnemühle are provided in the system.

The Piezography Pro v2 extensive proprietary collection of paper profiles (.quad files) is incorporated in a black and white software raster image processor (RIP) developed by Roy Harrington called QuadToneRIP (QTR). Using the .quad files, QTR is capable of controlling each of the Epson printers’ ink channels independently, several more channels than ABW’s limit of four. A companion app named Print Tool replaces the need for an application like Photoshop to manage the printing process and circumvents Apple’s built-in operating-system-level color management limitations.

By packing more printed dots onto the paper’s surface than Epson printers were ever meant to deliver, a Piezography print reveals image details previously lost and creates subtle transitions from the lightest values of grey to the darkest areas of black achieving a greater dMax (maximum amount of black ink) than ever possible in Epson’s ABW system.

Black & White Piezo Print Framed

Cone’s second- and third-generation systems, Piezography 2 (P2), Peizography Pro, and PiezoDN (for printing digital negatives), are comprised of seven shades of black ink (K7) and GO permitting both Matte and Glossy Photo Black (Mk and Pk) inks to be installed simultaneously.

This arrangement permits printers with eight color slots to avoid black ink changes when switching from matte to baryta papers. Jon’s company offers five different ink hue sets varying from warm to cool tones, and a recent variation that enables printing split-tone prints: Carbon, Neutral, Selenium, Special Edition, and Warm Neutral.

Piezography Pro utilizes two inksets: warm and cool. These finely balanced ink hues make neutral when combined together at certain percentages enabling very creative control of the warm, neutral, and cool axis. Up to one million unique toning combinations can be achieved all from a single printer.

PiezoDN: Most Versatile Digital Negative System

PiezoDN builds on the ink and technology of Piezography. It produces negatives with very fine tonal transitions. This system is a good match for Platinum and Palladium printing which is revered for its sensitive rendering of shadow detail.

Because PiezoDN is an inkjet-printed negative, it can be calibrated for any alternative photo process and print different negatives on the fly, something vastly more expensive laser-diode film recorders cannot easily do.

If you’re looking to step up your game when it comes to black and white inkjet printing, there is no more advanced, yet, easy-to-use system for producing better-than-commercial-lab results than Piezography for inkprints on paper. In the next article, I’ll show you Piezography’s close cousin, PiezoDN for printing digital negatives on film for alt process contact printing.

In the meantime, head over to Inkjet Mall and start digesting some of the many practical video support guides Cone’s gang has posted. Then, convert your Epson printer to a Piezograhy fine art printing machine. You’ll be glad you did.

Piezography Prints Reveal Rich Shadow Detail
Mark Laurence LaRivière

Mark Laurence LaRivière

I'm a fine art painter and photographer who is always seeking to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary.

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