One of my favourite places, Tshangkha, Bhutan. From the book Myth | Bhutan by Peter Eastway
Last week, I talked about my trilogy of large-format books of Bhutan - Myth, Life and Ritual. Each page is individually printed on an Epson printer using archival pigment ink and cotton-rag paper. And they are expensive to produce and expensive to buy!
So, are all books printed like this? No! Most of the books you purchase online or from a bookstore are mass-printed using the offset printing process. My book, The New Tradition, is printed like this and, as owners will acknowledge, the print quality is superb. I am also very happy with the reproduction in The New Tradition, but you have to remember, I have had to convert my RGB files into CMYK before printing. As good as they are, they don't match the original prints from my Epson. They don't offer the nuance of colour and fine detail.
The same principle applies to the Indigo (and similar) presses that on-demand printers like Momento use. With either a four or six colour inkset, as good as they are, they can't match the 9 colour inkset used by Epson to produce an exhibition quality print. They don't have the subtlety of detail that an inkjet printer provides.
While Momento primarily prints on its high-volume Indigo press, it also offers a service where they will hand-bind Epson prints. This is what they did for me. They use a double-sided paper, which is essentially the same as the papers we print on, except the paper is coated and finished on both sides. And that's why every page in my book is like an exhibition print.
But there's a cost. In addition to the more expensive inks and paper, there's the labour and skills of printing the pages, ensuring they are aligned front to back. And then there's the binding... So, yes, they are expensive to produce, but the way I figure it, I have spent a small fortune on cameras and travelling, it would be incomplete of me to accept anything less than the best current technology and craft can produce. That's what Ansel Adams would be doing if he were working today, I have no doubt.
If you'd like to see a short video of me turning the pages of the Life - Bhutan book, click on the Read More link and visit the Better Photography website for a detailed view - including the final reproduction of the image presented at the beginning of this blog.